Sectoral regulator Trai today reiterated that the entire spectrum available in 700 Mhz band should be auctioned in the upcoming sale as non-utilisation would result into irreversible loss to the government.
Trai also reiterated its stand on the methodology used for the pricing of 700 MHz band, for which it had proposed a base price that is four times of 1800 MHz band.
Trai had recommended a record high base price of Rs 11,485 crore per megahertz for the 700 Mhz band, which will be auctioned for the first time.
Spectrum in the band is considered more economical for providing telephony services compared with other bands like, 900 Mhz or 1800 Mhz.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) had asked Trai if auction be split in two phases as there may not be enough demand due to higher quantity of airwaves and also telcos rolling out networks using spectrum bought in 2014 and 2015.
Leading operators have also requested the regulator and the government to defer sale of 700 MHz spectrum, saying that the ecosystem for providing services in this band was not developed and sale would lead to underutilisation of the spectrum for several years and block industry’s crucial funds.
However, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said DoT’s presumption that the demand for the spectrum may be less in the forthcoming auction may not be entirely correct as subscriber base has widened and traffic has increased manifold particularly data traffic.
Trai said it is of the view that “holding back some of the spectrum in 700 MHz from this auction and selling it after a gap of certain period of time from now, would lead to non- utilisation of this scarce natural resource for that period and it would turn into irreversible loss to the government.”
It further said even if it is assumed that greater revenue can be generated by auctioning a part of spectrum in 700 MHz band in future, “deferring the revenue receipts now may not be of economic prudence keeping in view the impact of telecom services on the other sectors and overall GDP growth.”
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“The authority reiterates its earlier recommendation that entire available spectrum (2x35MHz) in the 700 MHz band should be put to auction in the upcoming auction,” Trai said.
The regulator had submitted recommendations for base price for spectrum in seven bands, including 700 Mhz band and DoT is looking to commence the sale around mid-July, which may fetch the government a whopping Rs 5.36 lakh crore.