February 18 2020
Panel may back Trai’s 2G auction price
26 May 2012

NEW DELHI: The telecom department has dismissed suggestions from commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma that the reserve price for auctioning 2G spectrum suggested by the telecom regulator was too high. It said the recommendation was in line with what some operators had paid to acquire stake in companies that benefited from former minister A Raja's largesse as also the 3G auctions.

The statement also suggests that the department is not opposed to Trai's formulations of a 10-fold jump in the reserve price to over Rs 18,000 per mega Hertz (MHz) in the 1,800 MHz band. In 2008, Raja had gifted spectrum with licence for Rs 1,651 crore, a price which had been discovered sever years earlier in 2001. The Telecom Commission, the inter-ministerial panel, is scheduled to decide on the reserve price and the payment modalities for the spectrum on Saturday.

A source said there was already an in-principle decision on getting GSM operators to vacate the 900 MHz band and switch to 1,800 MHz, in what is referred to as refarming. This will be implemented when licences come up for renewal. On Thursday, the panel chose to water down two of the recommendations of the regulator by deciding to permit auction of 10 MHz spectrum in each circle, twice the level suggested by Trai. The decision was taken as the government did not want spectrum, a scarce natural resource, to lie idle. The panel's recommendations will be taken up by an empowered group of ministers for a final decision.



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