The Telecom Department is making all efforts to hold spectrum auction in the current calendar year despite the tight timeline, a senior official has said.
The Digital Communications Commission—the apex decision-making body at the DoT—is scheduled to meet next week to take a final decision on spectrum prices, and it is widely expected that the panel will go with the recommendations made by the regulator.
“Spectrum auction and spectrum prices are the most important items on agenda for the upcoming meeting which will be held in the third week of this month,” the official privy to the matter said.
The DCC may favour going ahead with the baseline rates suggested by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for various spectrum bands, but despite industry’s repeated warnings that there would be no takers for radio waves at such `exorbitant’ prices, the Department believes that demand will come up for specific bands.
“There may be a case where there are no takers for a particular band, but we don’t believe that there won’t be any demand,” said the official who did not wish to be named.
Asked if the auction will be held in 2019 with just three more months to go before the year-end, the official said, “I am sure, it will be concluded before Dec. 31”.
The roadmap laid out by the Department of Telecom pegs the timelines for completion of the auction by Nov. 30, which will be followed by schedule for upfront payment by successful bidders, the official added.
The government, in August-end, had announced it will invite bids for selection of agency that will conduct spectrum auctions in various bands, including 5G— setting the stage for mega sale of over 8000 MHz of radio waves, at a start price of over Rs 5.7 lakh crore.
Issuing the notice for RFP or tender document, the DoT had said the deadline for submission of the bids by prospective auctioneers would be Sept. 25.
The telecom regulator TRAI, in July this year, had reiterated its recommendation on base price and valuation of spectrum, dashing hopes of financially-stressed companies such as Bharti Airtel which had desired a lower base price.
TRAI had made it clear to the Telecom Department that it has considered “all relevant factors” while giving views on prices.―Bloomberg Quint