Ncell acquires additional spectrum in 1,800 megahertz bandwidth
Kathmandu, December 18
Private telecom company Ncell has acquired additional spectrum in the 1,800 megahertz bandwidth through the frequency auction held today for residual spectrum in the given bandwidth.
At the first-ever spectrum auction by Nepal Telecommunications Authority today, Ncell became the highest bidder for frequency in the 1,800 MHz bandwidth surpassing the state-owned Nepal Telecom.
Ncell became the highest bidder in the spectrum auction with a bid amount of Rs 58 million per MHz, while NT had made a bid of Rs 50 million per MHz.
Earlier, NTA had called for spectrum auction for available 16 MHz in the 1,800 MHz bandwidth. Of the total 75 MHz available in the 1,800 MHz bandwidth, telecom companies are already using 59 MHz. Telecom companies prefer 1,800 MHz bandwidth for GSM and 4G technology.
Initially, NTA had called for spectrum auction for available frequencies across all 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz and 2,100 MHz bandwidths. However, auction across two other bandwidths could not take place as Ncell was the only company to express interest in the frequency auction of 900 MHz and 2,100 MHz bandwidths.
Even though it is the highest bidder, Ncell will not be able to purchase all the available remaining 16 MHz in the 1,800 MHz bandwidth as telecom companies are limited to use maximum of 20 MHz in any bandwidth. As Ncell already uses 11 MHz in the 1,800 MHz bandwidth, it can now purchase maximum of 9 MHz in the bandwidth.
Similarly, Ncell would not be allowed to immediately use the additional spectrum in the 1,800 MHz that the company won today. As the company is facing tax issues, NTA had allowed Ncell’s participation in the spectrum auction today only on the condition that it will use additional spectrum in the given bandwidth (if it becomes the highest bidder) only after it clears all its tax liabilities, including capital gains tax.
The spectrum auction notice had mentioned that telecom companies had to either have a basic telephony service licence or unified licence, clear all dues including royalty, RTDF and spectrum fees to be eligible to participate.
“Though Ncell was the highest bidder in the spectrum auction held today, NTA would allow the company to use additional frequency in the 1,800 MHz band only after Ncell cleared its tax liabilities to the government,” informed Min Prasad Aryal, spokesperson for NTA.
Based on specifications set by NTA for participating in the spectrum auction, no other telecom company could participate in the frequency auction except NT and Ncell. Citing that NTA was biased, CG Telecom had filed a case in the Supreme Court a week ago seeking stay on the NTA’s frequency auction process. Had the apex court complied and issued a stay order, the spectrum auction would have been cancelled.
Interestingly, the Supreme Court today issued a show-cause notice to NTA on the spectrum auction process soon after the auction process was completed.