The Indian government didn't hold any spectrum auctions in the calendar year 2023. However, as per reports online, there will be one in early 2024. CNBC Awaaz is saying that the next round of spectrum auctions will take place in January, while a Business Standard report suggests it will happen in late February. Well, the government has officially not said anything, so nothing is confirmed yet. However, one spectrum auction is expected to be conducted before the end of FY24.
For FY23, one spectrum auction was held in the summer of 2022. The government had decided to hold one spectrum auction every year, but for FY24, none have been held so far. CNBC Awaaz said that the government is not planning to include the 600 MHz spectrum, while Business Standard said that the govt is planning to offer the 600 MHz band as well. Both reports look very contrasting to each other. However, both talk about a spectrum auction expected to take place in early 2024.
The reserve price of the spectrum bands offered in the previous auctions is expected to stay the same. Telcos aren't expected to spend a lot of money in the upcoming spectrum auction. All the telecom players will look to acquire spectrum in LSAs (licensed service areas) where they will soon have their existing spectrum expiring.
Airtel's CEO and MD, Gopal Vittal, already clarified that Airtel will spend significantly less money on the next spectrum auction compared to the previous one. The telco isn't focused on getting the 700 MHz band and would only look to renew airwaves. As for the case of Vodafone Idea (Vi), the telecom operator is yet to utilise the 5G spectrum bought during the last auction. Jio is also expected to follow the same strategy as Airtel as it doesn't really require a lot of airwaves in the near future.