COAI seeks 50% reduction in 1800 MHz base price for 4 circles

COAI seeks 50% reduction in 1800 MHz base price for 4 circles New Delhi: GSM industry body COAI on Wednesday sought 50 percent reduction in the reserve price of 1800 MHz spectrum band in Delhi, Mumbai, Rajasthan and Karnataka circles for the upcoming auction.

It also requested reduction in the base price for all the 21 circles which have the unsold spectrum.

"In the interest of successful auction, the reserve price for 1800 MHz auction should at least be reduced by 50 percent in the four circles for the forthcoming auction," COAI Director General Rajan Mathews said in a letter to Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal.

COAI termed the government decision to reduce the reserve price of 1800 MHz spectrum by 30 percent for the upcoming auction for the circles of Delhi, Mumbai, Rajasthan and Karnataka, as opposed to 50 percent reduction in case of 800MHz, as "both arbitrary and discriminatory", saying that there is no basis for this differential treatment.

"It would be just and fair to apply at least the same reduction in reserve price, 50 percent for both 1800 MHz and 800 MHz," the Cellular Operators Association of India said.

COAI added that in order to maintain a level playing field, the policy of reduction in reserve price in 1800 MHz should be extended to all the 21 service areas and not just the circles which saw no bidders.

The auction for the 1,800 MHz radiowaves for 2G cellular services in four circles that went unsold in the November 2012 auction, will start on March 11.

The government will sell 800 MHz and 900 MHz spectrum after the GSM auction.

About 70 percent of the radiowaves went unsold in the November auction that raised just Rs 9,410 crore, less than 25 percent of the amount the government was targeting to raise from spectrum sale this fiscal.

COAI said there should be parity between 800 MHz and 900 MHz pricing for reserve price by reducing the same for 900 MHz to equal that of 800 MHz spectrum.

"Licensees coming up for extension in November 2014 cannot be arbitrarily coerced to participate in the forthcoming auction and the Government must honour and abide by the provisions for extension as contained in policy and license," it added.

PTI