Mumbai: Government is looking at pushing the upcoming spectrum auction by a few days to coincide with the period considered auspicious by Hindus, as requested by telecom industry, a top official said today while exuding confidence that revenue target from the biddings will be met.
"The date of auction we had announced from September 29, but many companies and people feel that the Navratra is starting from October 1 that is a good time to bid. If it gives them good comfort to bid and spend more money to buy the spectrum, we are willing to change it to the first week," Telecom Secretary J S Deepak told reporters here.
Citing high reserve price for certain mobile radiowaves, telecom firms have not shown great enthusiasm so far for the upcoming round, being touted as the largest spectrum auction in the country.
Telecom is one of the most leveraged sectors as the companies have been heavily investing in capex towards network expansion and spectrum buys.
The third largest telecom player, Idea's chief financial officer Akshaya Moondra had said earlier this month that the industry is moving into an era of "spectrum glut" from "spectrum scarcity" due to which companies would not bid in a "frenzy" and stick to economic fundamentals. Deepak, however, sought to dismiss notions of any dampness in the spectrum sale.
"We are selling a lot of good quality spectrum, so prices will be high," Deepak said, adding that "almost all" the companies participated in a pre-bid meeting held recently.
He exuded confidence that auctions will be "successful" and the Department of Telecom (DoT) will meet its revenue mobilisation targets through it.
The government planned to kick off the biggest ever spectrum auction on September 29 and had said it was expecting 25 per cent upfront payment for the spectrum below 1 GHz, which would be assigned within 30 days after the bidding.
The government is making available 2354.55 MHz of spectrum in these auctions and at base price it will garner Rs 5.56 trillion or Rs 5.56 lakh crore, which includes the additional Rs 27,000 crore of harmonised spectrum.
It is putting up massive quantity of spectrum for the first time to help remove fragmentation and improve quality of services. The simultaneous auctions will take place for seven bands - 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz.
Bidders will have to pay 25 per cent of the amount upfront, for spectrum above the 1 GHz band, they will have to pay 50 per cent upfront. The instalments would be the same as in previous auctions, with the second instalment becoming due three years after the initial payment.
On the industry body COAI's letter on Reliance Jio to the PMO, Deepak refused to comment. In a no holds barred attack, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio yesterday lashed out at COAI, of which it is a member, for acting "maliciously" as "mouthpiece" of certain dominant incumbent operators having vested interests against the company.
Hours after the Cellular Operators Association of India wrote to Prime Minister's Office alleging free data and voice being offered by Reliance Jio under beta test was generating huge traffic using spectrum allocated for commercial use but no revenue was coming to government, the company shot of a letter to the association with copies marked to all the addresses the COAI letter had gone to.