The Digital Communications Commission, the apex decision-making body at the telecom department, on Friday approved a Rs 5.22 trillion spectrum auction plan entailing 8300 MHz of airwaves across 22 circles and the sale is likely to take place in March-April.
"The DCC has today approved the recommendation of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). We are hopeful that auction shall be conducted in March-April," Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash told reporters here.
He said the auction will entail sale of over 8300 MHz of spectrum spread over all 22 telecom circles, the reserve price of which comes to Rs 5,22,850 crore.
TRAI had initially given recommendation for radiowaves valued at Rs 4.9 lakh crore. However, the telecom department has also included additional spectrum for the auction which will be free from expiration of licences of Reliance Communications, Bharti Airtel in 8 circles and Vodafone and Idea Cellular in 4 circles each.
Successful bidders will have to pay 25 per cent of the amount upfront for sub 1 GHz, and 50 per cent upfront for higher frequency bands.
Installment will be spread over a period of 16 years. There will be a two-year moratorium for payment after the upfront amount is given. This means that installment will have to be paid from third year, in 16 annual installments.
Based on views sought by the government, TRAI on August 1, 2018 had recommended auction of spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3300-3400 MHz, 3400-3600MHz bands.
Meanwhile, the DCC at its meeting on Friday, also approved submarine fibre cable connectivity between Kochi and Lakshadweep island, and under the plan 11 islands will be connected.
The proposal that entails a Rs 1,072 crore outlay - capital expenditure of Rs 837 crore and operating expenses of Rs 235 crore - will require the CCEA's approval. There will be two-way connectivity between and among the islands.
After award of the contract, 24 months will be required to complete the project.