India may auction 3G spectrum next year, asks TRAI for price

India Government is planning to conduct 3G spectrum auction early next year. DoT (Department of Telecommunications) has asked telecom regulator TRAI for price recommendations for 2100 MHz band.

The Center, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is keen to conduct spectrum auction for 800, 900, 1800 and 2100 MHz bands in February 2015. TRAI said telecom industry stakeholders can send their comments on 2100 Mhz band auction by December 15 and counter-comments by December 19.

In 2010, 3G spectrum auction generated enough cash for the UPA Government led by the then prime minister Manmohan Singh.

3G

“The DoT equested TRAI to expedite the process for its recommendations on the reserve price of 2100 MHz (3G) band and related issues so that the auction of spectrum in this band could be conducted along with the auction of spectrum in the 800/900/1800 MHz bands scheduled in February 2015,” TRAI stated.

DoT is in talks with the Defense Ministry for vacating 2100 MHz and there are three possible scenarios under deliberation.

Spectrum may not be released by the Defense Ministry, which implies that no spectrum may be available in the 2100 MHz band for auction. Secondly, if Defense releases 5 MHz in 17 circles, in that case one block of 5 MHz spectrum will be available for auction in 17 circles. Deliberations for swapping 2100 MHz band spectrum with an equal amount of spectrum in the 1900 MHz band are also in process, said a report by IANS.

In addition to the release of 5 MHz spectrum in 17 LSAs, the Defense Ministry may release 15 MHz (3 blocks) on pan-India basis by swapping 2100 MHz spectrum for 1900 MHz spectrum, TRAI said in a statement.

The proposed 3G auction is happening at a time when the entire telecom industry is unhappy about government decisions that blocked roaming among mobile operators in circles where they have no presence.

3G data is an important aspect for telecoms. For instance, Vodafone India said its data ARPU rose to Rs 142 in Q2 FY 2015 from Rs 130 in Q2 FY 2014. While data usage was 477 MB per month, 3G data usage was 614 MB per month in Q2 FY 2014. Vodafone has also doubled its 3G users to 13.6 million in H1 FY 2015. 3G currently contibutes nearly 50 percent to data revenue and volume of the telecom operator.

Baburajan K
editor@telecomlead.com