Govt turns down Vodafone’s appeal to auction extra spectrum

NEW DELHI: The government has rejected Vodafone Group Plc’s request to auction an additional 15 MHz of 3G spectrum, currently with defence, saying it can’t sell what it doesn’t have.

In a meeting with Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that “the department cannot auction the airwaves it doesn’t possess”, media reports said quoting a person privy to the matter.

The auctions are slated for March this year.

“Colao said that while world over the base price of spectrum was falling, India was on an opposite path of increasing the base price,” the reports said quoting a second person.

Colao raised concerns over the high spectrum prices and argued that high spectrum prices will mean that the telecom operators will not be left with enough resources to invest in infrastructure.

“The minister explained to him that the government cannot fix the reserve price of spectrum at a lower value than what was realized in the 2010 auctions,” the person said.

The Vodafone official was in the country as part of the UK telecom major’s global board meeting that took place in Delhi.

Meanwhile, Colao also said that, “We had a very good alignment on the Digital India project. We think we can have a great role on Digital India with the right amount of spectrum… We can be very instrumental.”

He also said the company at present was concentrating on improving its network and building its broadband penetration.

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