The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is gearing up to conduct a new round of the spectrum auctions soon. The auction is expected to take place early next year, either in January or February.

It is set to witness the sale of all unsold airwaves worth Rs 2.65 trillion at the same base price as the ones offered in the auctions in 2022. The base price will remain the same because the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has declined to provide a fresh reserve price for spectrum bands auctioned in July-August 2022.

Further, TRAI has requested DoT to consider its recommendations for the last spectrum auction to plan the sale of airwaves. The regulator informed DoT that it would take time to come up with suggestions on pricing and other modalities for new frequency bands, namely the Q (33-50 GHz) band and the V (40-75 GHz) band.

Earlier, TRAI had recommended that the government conduct a fresh spectrum valuation assessment on unsold spectrum every three years, with the valuation of the new spectrum to be decided when it is put on sale. However, DoT wanted more frequent spectrum valuation, which TRAI disagreed with.

With DoT setting the ball rolling for the next auction, some industry experts believe the timing for the auction is right, as some licences owned by Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Limited (Vi) are expected to expire in February 2024.

Others expect that it may not be a highly competitive auction, as only two buyers, Reli­ance Jio and Bharti Airtel, will effectively be involved. Considering Vi’s ongoing financial issues, the telco may find it difficult to buy more than the bare minimum it requires.