Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has released a notice announcing that the auction for radiowaves worth Rs 3.92 lakh crore will be conducted by government on March 1st. Singular auction will be carried out to assign spectrum blocks in the 700MHz (megahertz), 800MHz, 900MHz, 1,800MHz, 2,100MHz, 2,300MHz and 2,500MHz bands, the notice said. The telecom department also invited applications from prospective eligible bidders to participate in the upcoming auction. Applicants who meet the eligibility criteria for sale of the radio airwaves will be pre-qualified by DoT.
However, the notice added, “The government reserves the right to summarily disqualify any
pre-qualified bidder at any stage of the auction or after the auction are completed on the grounds of non-compliance with eligibility conditions, misrepresentation, non-compliance with the relevant auction rules, or any matter that may, in the opinion of the government, be contrary to general public interest.”
Through the auction, the government aims to obtain a “market-determined price" of spectrum bands put up for sale in a transparent manner. It wants to ensure efficient use of spectrum and avoid hoarding. The auction will also stimulate competition in the telecom sector, it said.
The government also wants to maximize revenue proceeds from the auction. However, experts feel that it may not achieve this objective as two of the three largest telcos in the country have expressed disinterest in the next auction due to high reserve prices. In December, the Union cabinet approved the modalities of the next spectrum auction, excluding the 3,300-3,400MHz bands that were recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for 5G wireless service.
According to the official statement, buyers can either pay the entire bid amount upfront or may shell out 25 per cent for spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz and 900MHz bands, and 50 per cent for airwaves bought in the 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 2300MHz and 2500MHz bands initially. The remaining amount can be paid in a maximum of up to 16 annual installments, after a moratorium of two years.