The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has launched the consultation process for the next round of spectrum auction, which the Department of Telecommunications is expected to launch early next year.
Licenses in possession of telecom companies like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications for the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands will be expiring 2015-2016, necessitating a fresh auction.
The government hopes to rake in around Rs14,000 crore by selling spectrum in 800MHz, 900MHz, 1,800MHz and 2,100MHz bands.
''In the budget estimates for financial year 2014-15, a projection of total of Rs9,355 crore has been made in respect of revenue receipts from auctions in the bands of 800MHz, 900MHz and 1,800MHz.
''Further, it has been indicated to the ministry of finance that receipts may be increased by Rs5,000 crore on account of 3G spectrum auction, which may be possible subject to release of spectrum held by defence,'' according to an internal memo issued by the DoT earlier this month. (See: Next round of spectrum auction in February; may fetch Rs14,000 cr).
Apart from 900MHz and 1800MHz bands, this amount also considers potential revenue to be generated from sales of the CDMA-focused 800MHz band spectrum, with recommendations on the subject already having been submitted by TRAI.
TRAI has set 8 September as the final date for comments from stakeholders on the consultation paper. Comments will be heard till 15 September, while open house discussions will start on 22 September.
According to TRAI, 184MHz of spectrum in the 900MHz band and 104MHz in the 1800MHz band, can be put up for auction.
In December 2015, four telecom licenses held by Bharti Airtel will end their term, as well as seven each held by Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications. Vodafone will have six of its licenses reach their limit by then.
Although they can renew their licenses by paying fixed amounts, participating in the auction is necessary if they wish to continue providing mobile and other wireless services.