The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has issued the notice inviting applications (NIA) for the forthcoming 4G spectrum auctions in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz bands.

The auctions will start from March 1, 2021, and all companies willing to participate can submit their applications till February 5, 2021. Following the auctions on March 1, 2021, all the successful bidders will have to pay the amount within 10 days.

Kolkata-based MSTC Limited is believed to be advising the DoT on the auction and will also be the auctioneer.

Earlier on December 16, 2020, the cabinet had cleared the sale of 2251.25 MHz of spectrum across seven frequency bands at a reserve price of Rs 3.92 trillion. The spectrum will be allocated for 20 years.

Telcos and other bidders can either pay the entire bid amount upfront or pay a certain amount now and the remaining in 16 equated annual instalments after a moratorium of two years. As part of the deferred payment plan, bidders for the sub-1 GHz bands of 700 MHz, 800 MHz and 900 MHz can opt to pay 25 per cent of the bid amount now, and the rest later. As far as the above-1 GHz bands of 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz, 2,300 MHz, and 2,500 MHz, is concerned, bidders will have to pay 50 per cent upfront, and can opt to pay the rest in equated annual instalments. The successful bidders will, however, have to pay an AGR of 3 per cent as spectrum usage charges, excluding wireline services.

Commenting on the development, Lt. Gen. Dr. SP Kochhar, DG, COAI, said, “We welcome the government’s decision to kick start the Spectrum Auction from March 1st. This will enable the industry to cater to the exponential increase in data usage which will facilitate in supporting the Digital India vision. While the Govt. has addressed the requirement for availability of more spectrum, lowering the reserve prices would have provided additional resources for network expansion to the telcos. High reserve prices in past auctions have resulted in large amounts of spectrum remaining unsold. We hope the Govt. will take additional measures to boost the financial health of the industry, which is the backbone of a digitally connected India.”