NEW DELHI: The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) plans to include 110 MHz of spectrum be vacated by the defence forces in the auction of 2G spectrum.
This will take the 2G spectrum to be auctioned to about 750 MHz.
The proposal for vacation of spectrum was put forward by DoT in the last meeting of an empowered group of ministers (eGoM) headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. A senior DoT official confirmed the development and said it would be easy if the available spectrum was made known to the auction participants, as directed by the Supreme Court.
According to the agreement between DoT and the defence forces, about 150 MHz has to be released in the 1,700-2,000 MHz band, which would include spectrum in 2G and 3G bands. About 55 MHz of 2G spectrum each will be vacated in the 1710-1765 MHz and 1805-1860 MHz bands for use in telecom services. Following the differences between DoT and ministries, the matter of vacation of spectrum was referred to the eGoM.
In February this year, the Supreme Court had directed cancellation of all 122 licences issued in January 2008 and auctioning of the vacated spectrum within four months. However, DoT has filed a clarificatory petition in the SC, saying the auction will would need at least 400 days.
The official said another meeting of the eGoM was expected soon.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has issued a consultation paper on the auction of 2G spectrum last week. According to the paper, the available spectrum (including spectrum of cancelled licensees) stands at 137.5 MHz in 800 MHz band and about 519 MHz in 1800 MHz band. TRAI has asked for comments of all the stakeholders by March 28.
In the last meeting of eGoM on March 5, the information and broadcasting ministry has agreed to vacate spectrum in 700 MHz band, which DoT plans to auction to telecom players for providing wireless broadband services (4G). After the meeting, communications and IT minister Kapil Sibal had said that the release of spectrum in 1700-2000 MHz, which has to be vacated by defence forces, will also be resolved soon.
Following the SC order, the companies that were impacted include Telenor, Sistema, Videocon, Idea, STel, Etisalat DB amongst others. Foreign investors such as Etisalat and Bahrain Telecom, which had stake in STel, have already decided to call it quits from India.
Norway’s Telenor has, however, said the company is committed to India and will not exit. Both Telenor and Sistema have together invested close to Rs 30,000 crore in India.