DoT Adamant on Conducting 4G and 5G Spectrum Auction by Year End

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has a huge responsibility on its shoulders of conducting the upcoming auctions for the 4G and 5G airwaves. As per an official of the DoT, the department is trying to arrange the sale of the spectrum in the current calendar year even though the timeline of the auction seems pretty packed. As per an ET Telecom report, the Digital Communications Committee (DCC) will meet next week to decide on the reserve pricing of the spectrum auction. Until now, the consensus has been that the panel will go ahead with the spectrum prices which have been recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

DCC Most Likely to Approve Recommended Spectrum Prices

The DoT official aware of the matter said, “Spectrum auction and spectrum prices are the most important items on agenda for the upcoming meeting which will be held in the third week of this month.” Also, the industry of the opinion that DCC will likely move ahead with the auction with the prices which have been recommended by the telecom regulator for the base prices of the 4G and 5G spectrum to be put up for sale. To recall, Trai had made recommendations on the reserve prices of the spectrum for this upcoming auction back in August 2018. Since then, the government has requested Trai to reconsider the prices to bring them down.

The government’s attempts in doing that have mostly gone in vain as Trai has not made any revisions to the reserve pricing of the 4G and 5G spectrum. It is worth noting that currently, the telecom industry remains Rs 7 lakh crore under debt with the telcos having bruised financials after the data tariff war. In such a situation, the government believes that the highly-priced spectrum will be another financial burden for the companies. However, there is also the opinion that although not every band might see takers in this auction, there will be demand for airwaves in some specific bands.

DoT Pegs Auction Date Before November 30

As per the plan that DoT has charted for holding the auction of airwaves, the spectrum sale should get done by November 30. The sale will be followed immediately by the schedule of upfront payment by successful bidders, the officials remarked. The government has also not selected which agency will conduct the auction for the airwaves. It is likely to decide on the agency by inviting bids. Over 8000 MHz of radiowaves will be put up for sale in the upcoming auction with the starting price of Rs 5.7 lakh crores.

The DoT has also said that the last date for the submission of the bids by prospective auctioneers would be September 25. Trai, back in July had revisited the recommended pricing but, still there was no relief for telecom operators, as the regulator decided to stick with its previous pricing.

Arpit Sharma

Arpit spends his day closely following the telecom and tech industry. A music connoisseur and a night owl, he also takes a deep interest in the Indian technology start-up scene and spends rest of his time spilling poetry and stories on paper.

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Arpit Sharma