Even as the country s biggest spectrum auction came to a draw on Thursday, the biddings raised a total Rs 65,789 crore, which constituted only 11.6 percent of the expected Rs 5.66 lakh crore, a disappointing figure. The Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) said this was partly due to the unrealistic pricing. Congratulating the government for the latest spectrum, the COAI also attributed the lack of enthusiasm on the operators part to the high debt and single-digit growth that the industry is currently reeling under. Also Read - 4G spectrum auction: Reliance Jio comes out as highest bidder, Airtel followsAlso Read - Telecom spectrum auctions begin today: Here's all you need to know
The five-day spectrum auction, which started on October 1, is being touted as a virtual failure for achieving a meager percent of the expected sales. At the end of the third day and after 17 rounds of bidding, the 1,800MHz band received the highest bids. Surprisingly, the 700MHz band, meant predominantly for 4G (LTE) services which will support broadband data, as well as Internet Protocol telephony such as voice over LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network went without bids on the third day running. Also Read - Coronavirus: Telecom operators urge DoT to offer free access to critical sites
“The lack of enthusiasm was majorly due to its unrealistic pricing, high debt and single-digit growth that the industry is currently reeling under,” the COAI statement said. The airwaves on the block for telecom operators are in seven bands — 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz, 2,300 MHz and 2,500 MHz. In the Delhi circle, the reserve price for 700 MHz was pegged at Rs 1,595 crore per MHz — which was the highest — and for pan-India, it was Rs 11,485 crore per MHz.
“We are hopeful the government and the Department of Telecommunications will take cognizance of the role a high reserve price had on bidding, as far as the 700 MHz is concerned, and will recalibrate the price so that spectrum in the band could be put up for auction, maybetwo years from now,” said Rajan S. Mathews, Director General, COAI.