The empowered group of ministers (EGoM) on the 2G auction headed by finance minister P Chidambaram, which met today, decided to go for partial refarming, wherein operators will be allowed to retain 2.5 MHz through an administrative allotment by paying an auction-determined price.
The decision will allow GSM operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea to retain 2.5 MHz of spectrum at the time of refarming in the 900 MHz spectrum. If they do not want to pay a market-determined price, they may have to surrender the entire spectrum.
The EGoM, which met to decide on allocation of spectrum in the 1800 MHz band against the superior 900 MHz band, also decided that telcos with 5 MHz spectrum will have to vacate space.
''EGoM has decided on what needs to be done for all those who have 5 MHz spectrum,'' telecom minister Kapil Sibal said after the EGoM meeting.
The market-determined price of 900 MHz band spectrum will be known only at the time of the auction, which is likely to be held sometime in June 2013. The licences of telecom companies will only come up for renewal in 2014 onwards.
The auction for 900 MHz band will be conducted 18 months in advance from the date licences of telecom companies expire.