The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has refused to budge from its stand on auctioning the entire spectrum available in the 700 MHz band in an upcoming sale on the ground that holding back part of the airwaves would result in an irreversible loss to the government.
The sector regulator has also stuck to its methodology used for the pricing of 700 MHz band, for which it had proposed a base price that is four times that of the 1,800 MHz band. This would be a record high base price of Rs1,485 crore per megahertz for the 700 MHz band, which will be auctioned for the first time.
Spectrum in the band is considered more economical for providing telephony compared with other bands like 900 MHz or 1,800 MHz.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had asked Trai on whether the auction could be split in two phases as there may not be enough demand due to higher quantity of airwaves and also telecom companies rolling out networks using spectrum bought in 2014 and 2015.
Leading telcos have also requested the regulator and the government to defer the sale of 700 MHz spectrum saying that the ecosystem for providing services in this band is not developed and sale would lead to underutilisation of the spectrum for several years and block crucial funds of the telecom industry.
However, Trai said that DoT's presumption that the demand for the spectrum may be less in the forthcoming auctions may not be entirely correct as subscriber base has widened and traffic has increased manifold, particularly data traffic.
Trai said it is of the view that holding back some of the spectrum in the 700 MHz from this auction and selling it later would lead to non-utilisation of this scarce natural resource for that period and it would turn into an irreversible loss.