An inter-ministerial panel has approved the draft request for proposal document to select the auctioneer for the upcoming spectrum sale. In this round of auction, the government will also put up 5G radiowaves for sale. The Department of Telecommunications expects to appoint an auctioneer early-September, reports said.
The inter-ministerial committee has representations from the Telecom Department, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Electronics and IT, and Niti Aayog, as well as others.
The matter is likely to be on the agenda for the upcoming meeting of Digital Communications Commission (DCC) scheduled this month. With the DCC's approval, the RPF for spectrum sale auctioneer will be floated, a PTI report said.
The last spectrum auction was held on October 2016 where only 965 MHz of the spectrum, out of the entire 2,354.44 MHz on offer, was sold. The spectrum was offered at the base price of Rs 5.63 lakh crore. The government had earned Rs 65,789 crore from spectrum sale back then. Among the bandwidth which went unsold was the valuable 700 MHz. The telecom companies had opted not to buy it, saying that the base price was high.
The government did not auction any spectrum in 2017-18 and 2018-19 and is now gearing up to hold the nation's biggest spectrum auction this year, with over 8,000 MHz of airwaves on offer. However, the price of radiowaves continues to be a concern.
Regulator TRAI had recently reiterated its recommendation on base price and valuation of the spectrum, making it clear to the Telecom Department that it has considered "all relevant factors" while giving views on prices.
Last month, amid an industry discontent over the pricing of spectrum, DCC had decided to approach the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to reconsider its spectrum recommendations to ensure competition and greater participation of players in the upcoming auction.
In a detailed response to the Telecom Department, TRAI last week said it had considered all the relevant factors, including the methodology, assumptions, developments between the spectrum auction in 2016 and its suggestions of August 1, 2018, and the rationale for spectrum valuation and reserve price while giving its recommendations.
TRAI had also argued that for sale of spectrum in an auction, the bidders consider various factors like company's vision, network needs, price, and the number of competing participants, among others, and so no guarantee can be given about sale of the entire spectrum put to auction.
TRAI further asserted that the government's own marketing efforts will also have an impact on participation in the auction.
(With PTI inputs)