India will launch a tender for 2G and 3G spectrum on 25 February. In this auction, the government hopes to raise over INR 648.4 billion. The government will auction 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz spectrum. According to the timeline set in the Notice Inviting Applications (NIA), operators are invited to submit their applications by 6 February. The government will sell 380.75 MHz of 2G spectrum in the 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 800 MHz bands. Details related to the 2100 MHz spectrum auction will be issued at a later date, the NIA said.
Winning bidders of the spectrum block(s) in each service area in the auction shall be determined in the first stage, dubbed ‘Clock Stage’, which will allocate spectrum blocks simultaneously for the service area(s). In the auction, the maximum number of blocks a bidder can win is restricted on the basis of the applicable bidding caps in a service area. A second stage, the ‘Frequency Identification Stage’, will identify specific frequencies for the winning bidders.
In the Clock Stage, in each service area, bidders will bid for blocks of spectrum of 200 kHz paired in 1800 MHz and 900 MHz bands and 1.25 MHz Paired in 800 MHz band (i.e. the right to use spectrum blocks not linked to any frequency) as per their respective permissible limit depending upon their categorization as a ‘new entrant’ or as an ‘Existing licensee’. The status as a “New Entrant” or as an “Existing Licensee” would be separate in 900/1800 MHz band (900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands would be treated as one) and 800 MHz band and this status may be different for different service areas, depending on the holding of spectrum in such band and in such service area.
The Clock Stage will be followed by a Frequency Identification Stage to identify specific frequency blocks for the winning bidders. The frequencies identified will be announced simultaneously with the outcome of the Clock Stage. The Frequency Identification Stage will be performed automatically by the Electronic Auction System.
The Cabinet recently approved a reserve price of INR 36.46 billion per MHz for pan-India spectrum in the 800 MHz frequency band, 39.80 billion for the 900 MHz band excluding Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkatta and J&K, and INR 21.91 billion excluding Maharashtra and West Bengal for the 1,800 MHz band. The reserve price for 2,100 MHz is yet to be announced.