Telcos seek more time for spectrum auction

Spectrum worth Rs5.63 trillion will go under the hammer in India’s largest auction of mobile airwaves; bidding will begin on 29 September


The telecom service providers sought clarity on their ‘rollout’ obligations, part of a newly invited clause in the Notice Inviting Applications. Photo: Mint
The telecom service providers sought clarity on their ‘rollout’ obligations, part of a newly invited clause in the Notice Inviting Applications. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: Telecom companies on Saturday requested the government to defer the spectrum auction by a few days as they need more time between the mock auction and the actual start date.

Spectrum worth Rs.5.63 trillion will go under the hammer in India’s largest auction of mobile airwaves. Bidding will begin on 29 September, with 2354.55 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum up for sale.

The mock auction dates are 26-27 September, according to the spectrum auction timeline. Telecom companies said that the gap between the two dates should be at least three or four days.

The pre-bid conference to address the concerns ahead of the spectrum auction was attended by representatives from major telecom firms, including Bharti Airtel Ltd, Vodafone India Ltd, Idea Cellular Ltd, Reliance Communications Ltd, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd and Aircel Ltd.

The telecom service providers also sought clarity on their ‘rollout’ obligations, part of a newly invited clause in the Notice Inviting Applications for participation in the upcoming spectrum auction.

Concerned over the quality of service and call drop issues the telecom service providers also suggested government to consider merging the rollout issue in the upcoming airwaves auction.

According to the new clause on rollout obligations, if a company has started services on one spectrum band and fulfilled its rollout obligations, it does not need to comply with the rollout rules if it initiates services in the same area on another band.

This is “because telcos deploy technology in other bands for capacity enhancement apart from coverage”, a telecom department official said, requesting anonymity.

The firms also asked the telecom department to notify spectrum holdings of all telecom operators. They also asked that if a company has a spectrum-sharing agreement in a particular band and acquires additional spectrum in this band, then sharing should not be barred for one year. The sharing agreement for the upcoming auction specifies that no sharing shall be allowed for one year for spectrum acquired in this auction.

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