In order to strengthen coverage, state-run telecom operator BSNL is interested in buying 5 MHz spectrum in premium 700 MHz band in atleast six service areas.
BSNL though will not be participating in the auction. Instead, it will ask government to keep one slot reserved for it and will pay the market determined price for the circles after the auction concludes.
“We will be discussing with the government that one slot of 700 MHz, we will take on the basis of auction determined price,” BSNL CMD Anupam Shrivastava said during the Mobile World Congress.
Earlier also, BSNL was allocated 3G spectrum in 2100 Mhz and the telco later paid the auction determined price to the government. He said initially, BSNL will focus on six telecom service areas, where it did not have spectrum in 2500 MHz band.
“Initially, we will focus on six circles –- Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kolkata and Tamil Nadu. In the remaining circles, we have spectrum in 2500 MHz band,” Shrivastava said.
He further said the matter has been discussed internally and soon it will write to government to reserve one slot for it. “We have discussed and will soon write to government about it,” he added.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended a record base price of Rs 11,485 crore per Mhz for 700 Mhz, which are to be auctioned in the forthcoming round of bidding. If all the available frequencies get sold at Trai suggested price then 700 Mhz alone can contribute over Rs 4 lakh crore.
However, most of the telecom operators have been saying that the reserve price for 700 Mhz is too steep and put strain on their balance sheets. Spectrum in 700 Mhz is considered more economical for providing telephony services compared to other bands like 900 Mhz or 1800 Mhz.
Shrivastava said that world over the ecosystem for 700 Mhz is developing very fast because it will give better coverage to the telecom operators.