Cabinet approves halving CDMA airwave auction price

The cabinet approved a 50 percent cut in the auction reserve price for airwaves used by phone carriers operating on the CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) technology platform, said Manish Tewari, the minister of information and broadcasting.

The decision follows a recommendation by a panel of ministers to cut the price by 30 percent or 50 percent, after the government did not find any taker for the airwaves in a November auction, with carriers complaining the price was too high.

The government had earlier set the reserve price of CDMA airwaves at 36.4 billion rupees per megahertz of spectrum in all of India's 22 telecommunication zones, which was 30 percent higher than the minimum auction price for airwaves used by operators on the popular GSM platform.

The government plans to conduct the next airwave auction in March. The auction is crucial for the Indian mobile phone unit of Russia's Sistema (SSAq.L), which has been ordered by the Supreme Court to shut operations in all but one of the country's 22 telecommunications zones.

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