August 7, 2020

Telecom panel asks Trai to review 3G reserve price

The inter-ministerial Telecom Commission on Wednesday did not agree with Trai’s suggested reserve price for 3G spectrum and sent the proposal back to the regulator for a review. The commission, which met on Wednesday, felt that the Rs 2,720 crore pan-India per megahertz reserve price recommended by Trai late last year was not adequate and prices could be kept higher. The suggestion by the telecom commission came after an internal committee of the Department of Telecom (DoT) is also understood to have suggested a base price of Rs 3,899 crore per megahertz for the 3G spectrum, which is about 43% higher than the rate recommended by Trai.Trai will now re-consider the matter and will send its recommendations back to the commission in about a fortnight.

The government is keen to auction at least 5 MHz of 3G spectrum along with the sale of airwaves in the bands of 800 MHz, 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz in the upcoming sale in February. Overall, the exchequer is guaranteed of collections of at least Rs 80,000 crore at the base price, though actual collections will certainly be higher.

Earlier this week, the Cabinet approved prices for all the bands but for 3G as the government moves ahead with the sale.

The pan-India per megahertz reserve price approved for the 800 MHz CDMA band is Rs 3,646 crore; for the 900 MHz band Rs 3,980 crore (excluding Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and J&K); and for the 1,800 MHz band Rs 2,191 crore (excluding Maharashtra and West Bengal).

The quantum of spectrum to be put up for auction is 103.75 MHz in 800 MHz band, 177.8 MHz (in 17 circles) in the 900Hz band and 99.2MHz (in 15 circles) in the 1,800MHz band.

The government is looking to bridge the yawning fiscal deficit through the sale of the mobile airwaves.