DoT begins BWA spectrum auction process

DoT begins BWA spectrum auction process

New Delhi: The department of telecommunications (DoT) has begun the process for auctioning broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum, two officials said on Wednesday.

Service providers need BWA spectrum to be able to offer high-speed broadband connections on wireless devices that use technologies like Wimax.

“Before we can hold an auction, we have to make sure that there is sufficient spectrum across the country for at least one block to be auctioned," a DoT official said requesting anonymity.

“The process of ensuring the availability of spectrum across the country will begin shortly," the second official said, also requesting anonymity. “If there is any circle without any spectrum, then the department has to ensure that it is made available from whoever has it, and then we will hold the auction. The entire process should not take longer than a few months."

As reported by Mint earlier, arms of the finance ministry have sent missives to DoT on at least two occasions seeking status reports on the auctions.

On 2 May, then finance secretary Sushma Nath wrote to R. Chandrashekhar, secretary, DoT, asking that his department “identify and auction surplus spectrum expeditiously to help the government meet fiscal revenue targets."

Similarly, on 8 July, R. Gopalan, secretary, department of economic affairs, wrote to Chandrashekhar asking for a status report on the auction to meet non-tax revenue targets for this fiscal year.

According to this letter, the government expects to receive Rs13,000 crore from the auction of one block of 20 megahertz of BWA spectrum across the country to meet its budgetary target. India has a revenue target of Rs9.32 trillion for the fiscal year.

The auction is expected to help the government meet its deficit target of 4.6% of the gross domestic product.

“They have asked us to expedite the process and we are certainly working on all the aspects involved... We will have to decide the timing of the auction because we will need to try and auction in a manner in which it gives a nationwide footprint," Chandrashekhar said on the sidelines of an event in Delhi on Wednesday.

Spectrum auctions in 2010-11 fetched the government Rs1.06 trillion, including almost Rs40,000 crore from BWA spectrum. But it took two years for that process to complete.