New Delhi: The government on Thursday approved a 50 percent reduction in the reserve price of spectrum used by CDMA mobile operators.
“The Cabinet has approved 50 percent reduction in CDMA spectrum (reserve) price which was fixed earlier at Rs 18,200 crore (pan India 5MHz),” Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said.
All the spectrum auction, GSM and CDMA, will be completed by March 31 and markets will decide how much revenue the government will get, he added.
After 50 percent reduction, pan-India 5MHz of 800 MHz spectrum (CDMA radio-waves) will now cost Rs 9,100 crore.
The Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, considered the recommendation of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) which suggested a 50 percent cut in the reserve price of 800 MHz band.
The November auction of CDMA spectrum did not attract bidders due to high reserve price. The reserve price set was 11 times higher than what operators paid in 2008.
The government had earlier fixed CDMA spectrum price at 1.3 times more than the GSM spectrum in 1800 Mhz band.
The Cabinet has already approved a 30 percent cut in the reserve price of 1,800 MHz band spectrum used for offering GSM services.
Reduction in reserve price of CDMA spectrum may help companies like Sistema of Russia to bid in the auction and make up for the ones they lost when the Supreme Court cancelled 122 licences in February last year.
The apex court has recently allowed the companies whose licences were cancelled to continue operations till February 4 when the government is supposed to inform it of the final reserve or minimum price for the spectrum sale.
The grounding of the Dreamliners would not have any impact on Air India’s operations, airline officials said, adding the flights to Dubai, Paris and Frankurt operated by these airplanes would now be serviced by Boeing 777s.
While one of the six planes is always on a standby, three are used on the domestic sector and two on the international routes, they said, adding that domestic services would be absorbed by the existing fleet of aircraft.
After the battery fire incident in Japan yesterday, the country had grounded 24 Dreamliner owned by two of its airlines — All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines.
This followed a similar incident in Boston on January seven. Both incidents involved lithium ion batteries whose failures “resulted in release of flammable eletrolytes, heat damage and smoke on two 787 airplanes,” the FAA said.
Since Friday last, the FAA and Boeing have been probing the reasons behind these battery failures, it said, adding “these conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment.”
The FAA directive was immediately adhered to by aviation regulator of countries whose airlines have so far bought these latest aircraft, including the DGCA.
Three of these planes, all owned by Japanese carriers, have suffered technical and other problems this month — an electrical fire, fuel leakage and a broken cockpit window.
In September last, Air India had also experienced a malfunctioning in a Dreamliner’s liquid cooling system and electrical power system which had led to the grounding of all three of these planes at that time.
After the faults were rectified, these aircraft were so far flying on select domestic and international routes.
Regarding the fuel leak problem, Air India officials had said this was not something “unusual as it occurs in all aircraft types. Such problems have to be rectified immediately but these are not anything new or different.”
Boeing has designated a team in Delhi for any trouble- shooting for the Dreamliners, which are considered the most technologically advanced aircraft made of lightweight composite materials instead of aluminium.
In a similar instance in February 1990, the then Indian Airlines had grounded its entire fleet of 18 Airbus A-320s after a fatal crash in Bangalore and several more serious technical breakdowns in the past. The embargo was lifted after eight months on October 30 that year.