About 1,538 MHz of spectrum in various bands for telecom services may be made available for auction next year, a move that will help the government expand mobile and broadband penetration in the country. Also Read - Defence may free only 25 percent of total 3G spectrum desired by DoT
In the premium 700 Mhz band, which can be used for 4G and is even being considered for 5G services, 93 MHz of radiowaves can be put for sale. In the 800 MHz (CMDA), 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz bands 117.5 MHz, 184 MHz and 104 MHz, respectively, can be made available, sources said. In 2,300 MHz band (broadband wireless access spectrum), 320 MHz spectrum, and in the 2,500 MHz band about 720 MHz could also be put on the block for sale, they added. Besides, the government expects to make available a fresh set of 300 MHz spectrum for mobile services by 2017 and an additional 200 MHz by 2020. Also Read - TRAI seeks views to accelerate use of broadband services
Sources said that almost all of the spectrum in 800 MHz, 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz will be available through the expiry of licences as well as that unsold in the last conducted auction. For 700 MHz band, sectoral regulator Trai had recommended that the reserve price for the spectrum should be four-times of that of the 1,800 MHz band. The 700-Mhz frequency band is considered to be one of the most valuable slots for telecom services as most of the latest technology can be transmitted in this band. Also investment required to roll out infrastructure will be lower for telecom companies in 700 Mhz compared to using higher frequency. Also Read - Telecom services inch close to normalization in Jammu and Kashmir
Spectrum auction in the last four years has fetched the government about Rs 1.75 lakh crore, which includes Rs 61,162 crore this year from auction in the 800 MHz, 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz band and Rs 1.05 lakh in 2010 in 2,300 MHz and 2,500 MHz. Government has set a revenue target of Rs 45,471 crore from communication services, including proceeds from spectrum auction and other related charges in 2014-15 fiscal. Additionally, there are plans to make available 85 MHz spectrum in the 2,100 MHz band — presently used for 3G services — but that will be subject to release by the Defence Ministry, sources said.
Availability of spectrum will aid the government in achieving the objectives in the National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2012. According to NTP 2012, the government aims to increase rural teledensity from the current level of around 39 to 70 by the year 2017 and 100 by the year 2020. Besides, it aims to provide affordable and reliable broadband on demand by 2015, to achieve 175 million broadband connections by the year 2017 and 600 million by the year 2020, at minimum 2 Mbps download speed and making available higher speeds of at least 100 Mbps on demand.