The Digital Communications Commission (DCC) – the highest decision-making body at the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) – will ask the sector regulator to reconsider all of its recommendations for the upcoming spectrum auction, the Economic Times reports. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will be asked to review its recommendations, with the DCC asking it to take into consideration the consolidation of the sector and spectrum coming up for renewal in 2021. A senior DoT official was quoted as saying: ‘We will ask them to review the entire architecture of auctions, so they will look at reserve prices, participation, possibility of greater competition, and Digital India and policy objectives.’ The DCC acknowledged the comparatively low turnout at recent auctions – only around 40% of the frequencies auctioned in October 2016 were sold – and suggested that greater levels of competition might lead to higher government earnings from the airwaves. Despite the government’s high hopes for the tender, participation is expected to be limited. Over the last three years the number of players in the market has narrowed sharply, due in part to the high prices set at previous spectrum auctions, in combination with a fierce price war. Of the surviving seven operators, two are in the process of exiting the market and two more are state-owned and have sought to receive spectrum allocations through an administrative process rather than bidding at auction. Of the remaining three, Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio), Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, only Jio has expressed any enthusiasm for the sale.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, the government hopes to launch the mega auction – which will include frequencies in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 1800MHz, 2300MHz, 2500MHz and 3400MHz-3600MHz ranges – by the end of the calendar year.