India to hold 3rd round re-auction in Jan

Dylan Bushell-Embling
06 Dec 2013

India's Department of Telecom (DoT) is preparing for its third run at re-auctioning 2G spectrum freed from the 2012 license cancellations, but the reserve price could limit this round's success as well.

The DoT is likely to invite applicants within 20 days for an auction that will commence in January, Press Trust of Indiareported, citing Telecom Secretary M F Farooqui.

Around 400 MHz of 1800-MHz spectrum and 45 MHz in the 900 MHz band will be put on the block.

The government aims to take in at least 110 billion rupees ($1.78 billion) from the auction of GSM frequencies.

But it remains to be seen whether this auction will be any more successful than the previous attempts to reallocate the spectrum. The government sold far less spectrum than intended, with operators balking at the reserve prices at a time they are already burdened with debts from the 2010 3G auction and subsequent rollouts.

Telecom regulator Trai had recommended that the reserve prices for the imminent auction be cut by up to 60%, but the DoT's own Telecom Commission had recommended reserve prices 15-25% higher than the figures proposed by Trai.

Despite consternation from the GSMA and complaints by industry members, the empowered group of ministers in charge with the auction is going with the Telecom Commission's proposal.

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