The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has kept an open mind on the next spectrum auction and said it would wait for telecom regulator Trai's report before concluding its views. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had an extensive dialogue last week on spectrum auction with telecom operators, and most of them opposed the decision to conduct auctions this year. The reason behind telcos backing out is because of the current industry's financial stress, accentuated by falling profits and high levies.
The sectoral regulator's ongoing consultation with the industry was important as it will give an idea about the extent of demand for the radiowaves, the most sought-after bands and the number of players willing to actually take part in the auctions, Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said. This news is reported by PTI.
"We will wait for Trai. We will go by their recommendations because they will be able to tell us, after interacting with the industry, whether people want more spectrum, which band, how much spectrum, how many players will be willing to participate in auction. So, (we) will have to wait for Trai's feedback," she said.
Furthermore, she added that the DoT has kept an open mind on the next spectrum auction. Trai chairman R S Sharma had said the regulator would give its recommendations at the earliest. However, he did not give any timeframe of sending the final views on the matter.
To recall, back in August 2017, Trai released a Consultation Paper on ‘Auction of Spectrum in 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3300-3400 MHz and 3400-3600 MHz bands.’ Trai will be looking to sell the premium 700 MHz spectrum after a failed attempt to sell it in the last auction.
The last spectrum auction was held in 2016, but Trai received mixed reactions for the 700 MHz spectrum band, thanks to the premium pricing. All the telcos backed out of 700 MHz spectrum, and Trai will be now hoping that operators will show some interest in the next auction. Right after Trai releasing the consultation paper, top operators such as Airtel and Idea Cellular wrote to the regulator as there's no need for a spectrum auction this year.