The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will once again ask the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to recommend a base price for auction of 800-MHz CDMA spectrum.
“We will write to Trai soon after minutes of the (EGoM) meeting are approved. Hopefully, early in the coming week,” Telecom Secretary M F Farooqui said.
The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM), headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, in its meeting on 23 November, decided to ask Trai for its recommendation for CDMA spectrum base price.
The regulator, in its recommendations on valuation of spectrum in September, had suggested no auction for CDMA spectrum (800-MHz band frequencies) and asked the government to explore possibility of using part of it for GSM service. The DoT had by mid-November asked Trai to suggest a reserve price for the 800-MHz band, used for offering CDMA services, within 15 days.
Trai replied saying it cannot suggest a price for auction of spectrum in 800-MHz band as the process needs to be started afresh. CDMA spectrum is used by Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL), Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices. Public sector companies BSNL and MTNL, too, have CDMA spectrum but they have offered to surrender a part of the airwaves.
Telecom operators like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular are pure-play GSM-based service providers. SSTL, which is a pure-play CDMA-based service provider under the MTS brand, had alleged Trai of favouring GSM players.
EGoM has approved the final price for auction of GSM spectrum at 25 per cent higher than what was suggested by the Telecom Commission for 900 MHz band and 15 per cent higher for 1,800 MHz band over base price recommended by Trai.
Mobile phone signals transmitted using 900 Mhz band frequencies reach about double distance compared to that transmitted in 1,800 Mhz band.
The CDMA spectrum band is also considered to be equivalent to 900 Mhz band by many technical experts.