Auction of 800 Mhz spectrum to commence on 11 March

NEW DELHI: Only one applicant - SSTL - registered for the auction of 800 MHz spectrum while no applicants registered for the auction of 1800 and 900 MHz spectrum at the time of close on the last date for receipt of applications, 25 February.

In view of this, the Government today announced that it will commence the auction for 800 MHz on 11 March.

Under the original announcement, auction for 1800 and 900 MHz bands was to begin simultaneously starting from 11 March and the 800 MHz band auction was to commence two days after the conclusion of the auction of 1800 and 900 MHz spectrum.

The Department of Telecom also announced that the next steps in respect of the 1800 and 900 MHz spectrum will be decided shortly after placing the developments and issues arising therefrom before the Empowered Group of Ministers on auction of spectrum.

A third auction (after the first auction in November 2012 and the second auction due to commence on 11 March) was already announced by the DoT on 20 February consequent to the Supreme Court directions of 15 February.

This third auction was to cover only the 1800 MHz band to comply with the SC directive to put the entire spectrum surrendered (which was entirely either in the 1800 or 800 MHz bands) by holders of quashed licenses to auction immediately. This would, in any case, have necessitated auction in 20 of the 22 circles wherein the quantum of spectrum put to auction was less than what the apex court had directed on 15 February after the issue of the NIA for the March 2013 auction.

In Delhi and Mumbai circles, the quantum of spectrum put to auction in March 2013 was already in accordance with the latest orders of the Court. This was also the case in respect of spectrum in the 800 MHz band both in the November 2012 auction and again in the March 2013 auction.

In the light of these developments, DoT will review the need to include the remaining two circles – Delhi and Mumbai - for 1800 MHz bands in the next round of auctions as also the need for a re-auction in the three metro circles of the 900 MHz band. The quantum of spectrum, the reserve price and the timelines for this auction will be decided after necessary directions are obtained from the EGoM and where required, the cabinet, in this regard.

DoT is also in the process of filing an affidavit of compliance in the Supreme Court regarding implementation of its orders of 15 February. Any further directions issued by the Court in the matter will be incorporated into the plan of action for the next round of auction to be held as soon as possible after the 11 March auction is completed.

Separately, the DoT will also take action as directed by the Delhi High Court to dispose of the applications for extension of licenses received from licensees whose licenses are due to expire in November 2014. This action will be completed before the timeline fixed by the High Court of Delhi.

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