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dna exclusive: Now, DoT says vacating defence spectrum ahead of auctions is difficult

Friday, 20 December 2013 - 9:05am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

The Department of Telecom (DoT) is understood to have brushed off the possibility of vacating spectrum from the defence forces in the 800 Mhz band before the auction scheduled next month.

The development may worsen its spat with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), which wants the spectrum to be vacated before the auctions next month so that it can be priced higher.

“We have been in talks with the defence (ministry). Trai’s motive to get the spectrum from defence and sell it at a higher price is difficult,” a senior telecom ministry official told dna on the condition of anonymity.

DoT is of the view that 800 Mhz spectrum, which is mainly used for CDMA players, should be
auctioned, but vacating the spectrum held by defence will take a long time.

The DoT would convey its view in a letter to Trai today.

In response to DoT’s fourth request asking for a recommendation of the reserve price of the 800 Mhz spectrum auction, Trai last week sent a letter seeking clarification on certain issues before it makes a recommendation.

In its letter sent to DoT on December 12, Trai has asked whether DoT has carried out a feasibility study to swap the defence spectrum holding between the 925 Mhz and 935 Mhz with airwaves in the 834 Mhz and 844 Mhz band.

The department is also understood to have also the regulator for asking for the quantum of the spectrum that is to be put on sale.

“How much spectrum is to be sold is not Trai’s prerogative. We will decide on that separately,” the official said, adding that so far the quantum hasn’t been decided.

According to reports, DoT is under pressure from the Cabinet to take a decision on the reserve price of the CDMA spectrum expeditiously.

It wants CDMA airwaves put up for auction during the scheduled auction of 1800 Mhz and 900 Mhz bands in January.

However, experts are of the view that given the current status of the 800 Mhz spectrum issue, conducting auctions of 800 Mhz spectrum in January is impossible.

In India the CDMA spectrum is used by Reliance Communications, Sistema Shyam Teleservices and Tata Teleservices.

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