THE government of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi last Wednesday (22) approved a mega auction of mobile phone radio waves, hoping to scoop about $85 billion (£63.6bn) from the sale of licences in the world’s second-largest market.
The new mobile radio wave spectrum on auction are seen as crucial for companies competing in the lucrative but cut-throat Indian market of a billion mobile subscribers.
“This may be the largest ever auction in the history of the country,” said finance minister Arun Jaitley.
More than 2,300mhz of spectrum would be available for auction across seven bandwidths and based on their reserve price, the government is looking to mop up $85bn against the $17.6bn (£13.1bn) received last year.
But a decision on spectrum usage charges, which has divided stakeholders, was deferred with the matter referred to the telecom watchdog.
Telecom bodies have ex- pressed concerns over a possible move to collect licence fee and spectrum usage charges on revenues earned from trading airwaves, saying it would amount to double taxation.
The battle for spectrum among India’s top eight mo- bile phone carriers, including market leaders Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Idea, has been fierce with each vying to roll out high-speed broad- band services.
The auction will hand the Modi government much- needed revenue as it attempts to reform the economy.
India is the world’s second- largest mobile phone market by users after China.
The government also said last Wednesday it had put in place a special financial package for the textile and apparel sector, a move aimed at helping to reboot an economy beset by legal barriers and regulatory excesses.
The government hopes the step will lead to a cumulative increase of $30bn in exports and an investment of $11bn (£8.2bn) over the next three years, the government said in a statement.