India panel recommends up to 50 pct cut in CDMA airwave base price

Last Updated: Mon, Jan 07, 2013 06:40 hrs

NEW DELHI, Jan 7 (Reuters) - An Indian ministerial panel on Monday recommended a 30 percent or 50 percent cut in the base price in an auction of airwaves currently used by telecommunication carriers operating on Code Division Multiple Access technology, two senior government officials said.

India auctioned airwaves in November after a court order to revoke permits of several cellular carriers and redistribute airwaves through an open bidding. But the auction did not see any takers for CDMA airwaves, while only part of the airwaves for the more popular GSM services were sold.

The government had earlier set the reserve price of CDMA airwaves at 1.3 times GSM airwaves, a price that was criticised by operators as too high. The price was set at 36.4 billion rupees ($660 million) per megahertz of spectrum for all of India's 22 telecommunication zones.

The CDMA airwave auction is crucial for the Indian mobile phone unit of Russia's Sistema, which has been ordered to shut operations in all but one of India's 22 zones by Jan. 18 as it did not win back airwaves in the last auction.

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