Regulators

Spectrum auction reserve prices provide for 50 per cent relaxation for north-east

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NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on 31 December recommended that in the upcoming auction of 2100 MHz band spectrum, an auction-specific cap should be placed that no bidder would be permitted to bid for more than 2 blocks in an LSA if 3 - 4 blocks are available in that LSA.  

It also reiterated its recommendations that spectrum in the 2100 MHz band should be put to auction along with the 800/900/2100 MHz band. 

Furthermore, the 15 MHz of spectrum (which are equivalent to 3 blocks of 2x5 MHz when paired corresponding downlink spectrum) in the 2100 MHz spectrum being vacated by Defence Ministry, in lieu of spectrum in the 1900 MHz spectrum, should be auctioned in view of the in-principle agreement reached with Ministry, even if it is not available immediately. This is because actual assignments do not have to be made immediately. The actual date of assignment may be given in the Notice Application (NIA). 

The Authority recommended that the reserve price for North East LSA may be fixed at a discount of 50 per cent. 

The recommendations follow a letter from the Department of Telecommunications on 16 October, saying the government was planning auction of right to use spectrum in the 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz bands, preferably along with the auction of spectrum in the 800 MHz, 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands and seeking recommendations on some issues. 

The Authority also recommended that the Department of Telecommunications should take all measures to ensure that the 2100 MHz spectrum which was earlier assigned to STEL in three service areas viz. Bihar, Orissa and Himachal Pradesh is also put to auction. 

The Authority recommended that the roll-out obligations that were mandated in the 2010 auctions for spectrum in the 2100 MHz band should be applicable for the upcoming auction of 2100 MHz band. 

However, a period of three years (instead of five years) should be prescribed to meet these obligations. 

A Telecom Service Provider, which already has a block of 2x5 MHz in the 2100 MHz band in an a Local Service Area and acquires additional block(s) in the LSA through the upcoming auction, should not be mandated to comply with the roll-out obligations again. It would continue to be bound to the same roll-out obligations that were prescribed when it acquired the first block of spectrum in 2010. 

The TSTP (Test Schedule Test Procedure) which prescribes the process and method for measurements and tests to be carried out to ensure the required roll-out of the 3G network should be finalised at the earliest but, in any case, no later than the conduct of the February 2015 auction. 

The list of rural Short Distance Charging Areas along with names of the towns in these DCAs should be made part of the NIA. 

The Authority recommended that if any TSP is assigned two blocks of 2x5 MHz in the 2100 MHz band in the upcoming auction, it should be assigned contiguous carriers only; and TSPs should be permitted to realign their spectrum holding amongst themselves with mutual agreement. 

It recommended that the issue of interference, reported in the 2100 MHz band in some LSAs, needs to be resolved before putting fresh spectrum blocks to auction in these LSAs. Further, it is imperative to ensure that spectrum blocks being put to auction are interference-free. 

The regulator recommended that the DoT should carry out the Electro-magnetic Field impact study and decide within a period of six months whether the power radiation limits from base stations can be enhanced beyond the present limits of 20 Watts for HSPA/HSPA+ or LTE technologies.  

The Authority recommended that the reserve price for 2100 MHz spectrum in each LSA should be as given in table below: 

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