Posted On October 8, 2016 By In Business And 378 Views

Telecom min, Trai spar over unsold 700MHz

New Delhi: The government’s failure to sell any spectrum in the “lucrative” 700 MHz frequency has led to differences between the telecom ministry and regulator Trai over pricing of the airwaves. Sources said there were some “heated exchanges” between officials at the telecom ministry and senior Trai functionaries as minister Manoj Sinha expressed displeasure regarding the auction. The government managed to sell only around 40% of the total spectrum that had been offered for auction. The painful part for the ministry was that no spectrum was sold in the 700 MHz band, which had been constantly projected as “highly efficient”, despite protests by the debt-laden industry about its “exorbitant pricing” and lack of a ready-to-use infrastructure. 700 MHz had Rs 11,485 crore reserve price (pan-India per megahertz). A price of nearly Rs 57,500 crore for a pan-India block of 5MHz — the minimum size to provide effective coverage with this band — was always seen as too high for the industry that has a debt of nearly Rs 3.8 lakh crore. While Trai had made the original recommendations on pricing of spectrum, that had been cleared finally by the inter-ministerial telecom commission, headed by telecom Secretary J S Deepak.

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