The 4G spectrum auctions might take place in March 2021. The Cabinet has a meeting scheduled on Wednesday wherein it might consider the request made by the telecom department for the auctioning of 4G spectrum. As per a report from ET Telecom, one of the officials related to the matter believes that 4G spectrum auction is likely to happen in March next year. Whereas, for the auction of 5G spectrum, the industry will have to wait until the end of 2021 or even 2022. More details on the story ahead.
DoT to Stick With 3% Spectrum Usage Charge for Airwaves
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is not considering to lower the Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC) for spectrum bought by the operators in the next auction. The department will be looking to auction the sub-1 GHz including 700 MHz, 800 MHz, and 900 MHz in addition to the over-1 GHz bands of 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300Mhz, and 2500 MHz. The 3300-3600 MHz bands are reserved for 5G auctions at a later date.
The government will be offering 2,475 MHz of spectrum at a starting price of Rs 4.35 lakh crore as per recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) in August 2018. The base rate of the 800 MHz band was reduced by 20% by the regulatory from Rs 5,819 a unit to Rs 4,651 a unit.
DoT has also allowed the telecom operators to split the upfront payment which they have to make for purchasing spectrum. The department will seek for 10% of the 25% upfront payment that the operators have to make for purchasing airwaves in the sub-1 GHz bands right away. As for the airwaves in the over-1 GHz band, the department will ask 20% of the 50% upfront payment right away from the operators.
A thing worth noting here is that the government has increased the overall airwaves holding limit from the earlier 25% to 35% now. Reliance Jio’s airwaves which is shared with the Reliance Communications in the 800 MHz band are due to expire starting July 2021 in around 12 to 14 circles of India.
Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea (Vi) will largely see airwaves expiring in the 1,800 MHz bands in around 8 circles of India starting July 2021. The good thing for these telcos is that they both have backup airwaves in the concerned areas so they won’t have to worry about spending too much at the auctions.
At the same time, nothing is confirmed yet. If the 4G spectrum auctions were to be pushed ahead, it would mean a further delay for 5G auctions for India.