The Indian telecom department (DoT) has deferred the upcoming mega spectrum auctions by two days to October 1, heeding to the telecom industry’s demand to delay it by a few days to coincide with the navratras, a period considered auspicious by Hindus. The telecom department, in a revised Notice Inviting Application for spectrum auction, said, “For start of the auction 29th September READ start of the auction 1st October.”
The auction was scheduled to start from September 29, which falls during the ‘Shradh’ period, during which rituals are held to pay homage to the dead and is considered inauspicious to start any new work. The Shradhs are followed by Navratras — a nine-day festival period. Telecom operators had demanded that the spectrum sale, which is the biggest ever auction, should begin with the start of Navratra festival which is considered auspicious.
The government will sell a record 2,354 MHz of mobile airwaves across seven bands at the upcoming auctions, which are being seen as critical for some telecom players like Vodafone India, which lags behind in terms of 4G spectrum holdings.
At base price, the sale of all spectrum would fetch bids worth Rs 5.63 lakh crore. Of this, the spectrum in premium 700 Mhz band alone has potential to attract bids of Rs 4 lakh crore. The Indian telcos however have not shown great enthusiasm so far for the upcoming round, citing high reserve price for certain spectrum bands.
“We are selling a lot of good quality spectrum, so prices will be high,” Telecom Secretary J S Deepak had said, adding that “almost all” the companies participated in a pre-bid meeting held recently.
The government had earlier said it was expecting 25 per cent upfront payment for the spectrum below 1 GHz, which would be assigned within 30 days after the bidding.
In its recent report, ICRA had said that the upcoming spectrum auctions would further elevate the industry debt level to around Rs. 4,70,000 crore from the current level of Rs. 4,10,000 crore, even as much more moderate participation fetching around Rs. 60,000 – 65,000 crore is expected.
ICRA said that the 700 Mhz band would attract minimal participation, even as a majority of the spectrum put to auctions is from the 700 MHz band.