NEW DELHI: Telecom watchdog TRAI on Wednesday recommended `2,720 crore per MHz as new base price for pan India 3G spectrum auction in February, which is 19% lower than the bid price of `3,350 crore per MHz in 2010.
“The Authority recommends that the reserve price for 2100 MHz spectrum in each LSA (licence service area) should be...`2,720 crore,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said.
The recommended base price is about four times higher on per megahertz basis when compared to reserve price of `3,500 crore for 5 MHz fixed by the government for last 3G auction.
“Furthermore, the 15 MHz of spectrum in the 2100 MHz spectrum being vacated by Ministry of Defence, in lieu of spectrum in the 1900 MHz spectrum, should be auctioned in view of the in-principle agreement reached with MoD, even if it is not available immediately," it said.
“The Authority also recommends that the Department of Telecom should take all measures to ensure that the 2100 MHz spectrum that was earlier assigned to STel in three service areas viz. Bihar, Orissa and Himachal Pradesh is also put to auction,” the watchdog said.
Service provider STel had shut India operations after the Supreme Court Order cancelled 122 licences in February 2012. The decision was on the backdrop of an alleged scam in 2G allocations which had caused estimated losses of `1.76 lakh crore.
The 3G spectrum in 2010 had attracted bids worth `16,750.58 crore for a block of 5 MHz frequencies on pan-India basis, which amounts to about `3,350 crore per MHz.
Further, TRAI reiterates that spectrum in the 2100 MHz band should be put to auction along with the 800/900/2100 MHz band.
This can be done as “actual assignments do not have to be made immediately”, it said.
TRAI has recommended that in upcoming auction of 2100 MHz band spectrum, an auction-specific cap should be placed that no bidder would be permitted to bid for more than 2 blocks in an LSA if 3-4 blocks are available in that licence service area.
TSTP (Test Schedule Test Procedure), which prescribes the process and method for measurements and tests to be carried out to ensure the required roll-out of the 3G network should be finalised at the earliest but, in any case, no later than the conduct of the February 2015 auction, TRAI said.
The regulator has said that list of areas under rural exchange along with the names of the towns under them should be made part of the auction document.
Besides, it said, telecom operators winning 3G spectrum in the upcoming auction should be mandated to roll out network on this spectrum within 3 years from the time of getting the radiowaves.
In 2010, there was obligation to roll out network within 5 years of spectrum allocation.
Telecom operators already having 3G spectrum will have to follow same roll out obligation that were prescribed when it acquired 3G spectrum in 2010.
The DoT as per process will now place TRAI’s recommendation before inter-ministerial panel, the Telecom Commission, which will give its view to Telecom Ministry. The ministry then is expected to approach Cabinet for final approval.