The Department of Telecom (DoT) has decided to split the 2G and 3G/4G auction which plans to sell 3G and 4G spectrum by May 2015. This is a negative development compared to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommendations, which was to auction all the spectrum simultaneously.
The spectrum auction for telecom services is expected to start from February 23, 2015, a few days later than suggested by a ministerial group, according to a report. As per the report, “2G spectrum in both CDMA and GSM bands are likely to be sold starting February 23 while the rest could be sold a few months later,”
“The government is also mulling auctioning some amount of 3G spectrum along with spectrum in three sets of spectrum band — 800 MHz (used by CDMA operators) that is lying unused, alongwith 900 MHz and 1800 MHz being used by Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communication for 2G services across the country, according to a report.
“I don’t think this is a very good decision as it would only add to the pressure on the telecom industry. The reason why the regulator had asked for a multi-band auction was to ease the do-or-die situation operators were facing,” said Rajan Mathews, director-general of the GSM lobby group COAI.
COAI has also put its concern stating if the proposed spectrum auction (to be held in February 2015) is conducted with completely inadequate spectrum, it will put investments of thousands of crores and continuity of services to millions of customers at huge risk.
The next round of auctions for spectrum is compulsory for mobile operators – Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and Reliance Communication – as some of their licences are set to expire in 2015-16.