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Cabinet approves India’s costliest telecom spectrum auctions

The Union Cabinet approved telecom spectrum auctions in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz 1,800MHz, 2,100MHz, 2,300 MHz and 2,500 MHz bands, a move that could fetch the government Rs 5.6 lakh crore, reports Livemint. It will be India's largest telecom spectrum auction. The cabinet, however, did not specify a timeline for the auctions, but said it will happen after TRAI clarifies fixing of Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC). Earlier in January, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had recommended reserve prices of Rs 11,485 crore per MHz for pan India airwaves, including the 700 MHz spectrum, which is being auctioned for the first time. Spectrum auctions in 2015 fetched the government Rs 1.09 lakh crore from the sale of 418.05 MHz of spectrum. SUC charges and relaxed payment for telcos: The cabinet asked DoT to check with TRAI to resolve the issue of fixing SUC, which was recommended at 3% by the telecom commission this month, according to Financial Express. In addition, the cabinet also approved an alternate payment structure that allows telcos to pay 25% of the bid amount upfront for all bands, and 50% upfront payment in case of 1,800 MHz, 2,100MHz, 2,300MHz and 2,500MHz bands. Rest of the bid amount can be paid after a 2-year moratorium period in 10-year installments. The alternate payment option was initially suggested by TRAI in April. Spectrum harmonization: As a part of the spectrum harmonization process across all 3G and LTE bands, the DoT had written to Defence Ministry in April asking it to release 15 MHz of spectrum in…

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