Inching closer towards auction of spectrum, sector regulator TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has issued a consultation paper on auction of spectrum to seek views of various stakeholders and then give its recommendations to the Department of Telecom.

“On the basis of the comments received from the stakeholders on the pre-consultation paper and considering the international practices, the draft consultation paper on ‘auction of spectrum' has been prepared,” TRAI said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

Key issues

The key issues raised in this paper are: amount of spectrum to be auctioned, liberalisation and reframing of spectrum in 800/900 MHz bands, structure of auction, spectrum block size, eligibility criteria for participating in the auction, reserve price, roll out obligations, spectrum usage charges and trading.

The consultation paper shows 60 MHz and 413.6 MHz of spectrum will be vacated in 800 MHz and 1800 MHz spectrum bands, respectively, from the cancellation of 122 2G licences by the Supreme Court. However, most of the telecom service areas do not have the quantum of spectrum chunk even for a single new entrant that has been decided by the government for allocation under the new National Telecom Policy.

The new prescribed limit on spectrum assigned to a service provider is a pair of 8 MHz and 5 MHz for GSM and CDMA technologies for all service areas other than in Delhi and Mumbai where it will be 10MHz and 6.25 MHz paired spectrum.

The Telecom Commission, the apex decision making body of DoT, has also approved the National Telecom Policy, 2012, on Wednesday. This will now be forwarded by DoT to the Cabinet for its approval.

Telecom Commission Chairman R. Chandrashekhar told PTI that the NTP 2012 would be moved to the Cabinet by the end of this month and expected to get Cabinet approval by April.

Based on the new prescribed limit for spectrum allocation and as shown in this consultation paper of TRAI, 1800 MHz spectrum band has spectrum available that can accommodate new player, except in Rajasthan, which will have only 3.2 MHz spectrum available after it is vacated by telecom operators whose licence has been cancelled by the apex court.

However, TRAI has earlier recommended that on renewal of the licence, spectrum held by a licensee in the 900 MHz band shall be replaced by assignment of equal amount of spectrum in 1800 MHz. The 900 MHz is capable of providing 3G services more efficiently compared to the spectrum in the 1900 MHz band.

In the consultation paper issued, TRAI has put forward various models that can be used for auction. Similarly, for deciding the minimum value for spectrum to start auction, TRAI has not specifically indicated the price but has asked for model that should be used for determining the base price.

TRAI has given time till March 21 for written comments and March 28 for counter-comments on this consultation paper. — PTI