DoT (Department of Telecommunications) is finally listening to the demands made by the telecom operators via the COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India). The telecom department has asked the TRAI submit its suggestion for the reserve price of the spectrum auction. The 3G spectrum auction will be conducted in Feb,2015.
According to COAI, “Partial allotment will enable mixed use of 3G spectrum by reserving such bandwidth for defence in some geographies, and putting it to commercial use elsewhere.”
The GSM operators have been craving these waves since long, but these frequencies were being used by defence forces in the country. COAI proposes that these frequencies should be alloted to telecom providers in the areas where defence forces don’t use them.
Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone, and Reliance Communications currently own 184 MHz in the highly coveted 900 MHz band. Their licences are due for expiry in November next year, so the spectrum auction for 3G services will be held in Feb.
DoT is also planning to put up 104 MHz of spectrum from 1800 MHz band during the upcoming spectrum auctions. The final schedule and floor price will be announced only after getting TRAI’s suggestions.
It is worth noting that many Indian telcos, especially the small players like Telenor are eagerly waiting for the upcoming spectrum auction.
If the government frees up some additional bands in the spectrum then it will lead to reduced competition and reduced auction price for the telecom operator. The telcos would then pass on this profit to their subscribers in the form of reduced bills and cheaper tariff plans. But, this is highly unlikely, so it would be better to keep your fingers crossed.