GSMA Urges India’s Telecom Commission to Reduce Spectrum Auction Reserve Prices

Setting Realistic Prices Will Pave the Way for Lasting Economic and Social Gains

London: John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA commented on the importance of adjusting the reserve prices for India’s forthcoming 700MHz spectrum auction to meet the Indian Government’s objectives of increasing mobile broadband penetration:

“The GSMA is concerned that, if the Telecom Commission maintains the current reserve prices for 700MHz spectrum in India, there is the risk of a failed auction or, at a minimum, serious limitations on investment capability in next generation networks, denying the enabling social and economic power of this important spectrum resource to the citizens of India.

“The reserve prices for this much-needed spectrum are unrealistic in relation to the economics of the mobile industry. In fact, the total recommended reserve prices of INR 536,239 crore (over US$80 billion) for the spectrum bands in the auction are almost double the cost of all spectrum investment to date in India. This equates to more than 20 times the annual free cash flow of the entire mobile industry in India1.

“The government’s decision to reduce Spectrum Usage Charges from five to three per cent is a step in the right direction, but it will not do enough to offset such high spectrum prices. In competitive markets like India, setting reasonable reserve prices would allow auction mechanisms to work in determining the market price in assigning the spectrum.

“In the event that the spectrum reserve prices are not reduced, the Indian Government runs the risk that spectrum will go unsold, as happened in Australia and recently in Senegal. This would be extremely damaging not only for the Indian mobile industry, but also for the country’s economy overall, depriving citizens and businesses in India to the full potential of high quality mobile broadband services.

“The GSMA urges the Indian Government to reconsider the auction reserve prices in order to better reflect local market conditions, allow competition in the market to determine fair prices for this spectrum, and help meet its objectives of increasing mobile broadband access for all.”


Notes to Editors
1 Source: Coleago Consulting: Criteria for a Successful Spectrum Auction in India, March 2016. Free cash flow is calculated as Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) minus capex. 

About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with more than 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as Mobile World Congress, Mobile World Congress Shanghai and the Mobile 360 Series conferences. 

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