The Department of Telecom (DoT) is expected to approach the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) this week for the auction of spectrum bands and radio waves held by telecom companies that are set to expire in 2024. According to an official source cited in a PTI report, the DoT plans to conduct the auction in the March quarter of the current fiscal year.
The report quoted a source on the condition of anonymity, stated that the DoT is preparing to send a reference to TRAI within the next few days, encompassing the auction of the 37 GHz band as well as the radio waves associated with telecom licenses due for renewal in 2024.
Inclusion of Unsold Frequencies from Previous Auction
Furthermore, the reference is likely to include the auction of spectrum in the 600 MHz band, along with the frequency that remained unsold during the previous auction held in 2022.
According to the report, during the previous auction, the government made available spectrum in 10 bands; however, no bids were received for the airwaves in the 600 MHz, 800 MHz, and 2300 MHz bands.
Notably, the demand for the 5G bands (3300 MHz and 26 GHz) accounted for about two-thirds of the total bids, while the 700 MHz band saw significant interest, making up over a quarter of the demand. Also, the 700 MHz band had gone unsold in the previous auctions conducted in 2016 and 2021.
The DoT is expecting TRAI to provide auction guidelines for the satellite communication spectrum in the near future, enabling its inclusion in the scheduled auction for the March quarter, the report added.
However, it is worth noting that only one satellite communication player has expressed the desire to acquire spectrum through administrative allocation instead of participating in the auction.
Spectrum Expiring in 2024
According to TelecomTalk's Spectrum Timeline, 41.8 MHz of Spectrum for Airtel (major chuck in the 900 MHz band and remaining in 1800 MHz band) and 12.4 MHz of Vodafone Idea's licenses are set to expire in 2024, and the spectrum associated with these licenses will also be put up for auction in the March quarter. Aircel's 28.2 MHz and RComm's 2.5 MHz are also set to expire in 2024.
The source further added that the DoT will be able to proceed with the auction if TRAI's recommendation is received by January, ensuring a smooth and timely process.