Govt to auction 165 Mhz spectrum next fiscal

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Government will auction about 165 megahertz of spectrum in financial year 2014-15 that is held by telecom operators whose licences are set to expire in December 2015.

"Next year many more licences will come up for renewal for which there will be again auction in next financial year 2014-15," Telecom Secretary MF Farooqui told PTI.

In December 2015, four licences of Bharti Airtel, 7 each of Idea Cellular and Reliance Telecom and 6 of Vodafone will complete their 20 year term and will have to be renewed.

These companies hold most of the spectrum in the premium 900 Mhz band for which they have paid up to twice more than the base price fixed by government in this month's auction.

The 10-day long auction that ended last week gave the government over Rs 61,162 crore, far exceeding its own target. Eight telecom firms had bid for 900 Mhz and 1800 Mhz bands.

The licences that are expiring in 2015 jointly hold about 143.8 Mhz in 900 Mhz, and 21.8 Mhz in 1800 Mhz band.

The Telecom Secretary said the government will also try to auction spectrum in the 800 Mhz band, which is being used for providing CDMA services. It will also take a call on auction of generally most expensive spectrum in 700 Mhz band.

"Government will have to take careful call on auction of 700 Mhz in next financial bases on the availability of eco-system for it. We will have to decide on it before next round of spectrum auction," Farooqui said.

On the impact of high price of spectrum on telecom tariffs, he said that he expects that the competition in the market will put pressure on companies to keep the service rates at low and, in future, technology will ensure that prices are maintained at affordable level.

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