Reliance Communications, Tata-Teleservices seek immediate redistribution of 900 MHz band
NEW DELHI: Telcos offering mobile services on the dual-technology platforms-Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices- have sought immediate redistribution of airwaves in the 900 MHz band.
The 900 MHz band, considered the most efficient for second generation mobile services, and is currently held by incumbents, was exhausted in 2001 and since then 2G airwaves have been given to telcos in the 1800 MHz band.
The likes of RCOM and Tatas contend that incumbents such as Bharti, Vodafone and BSNL have made huge savings on their capital expenditures and operational expenditures as they had been allotted bandwidth in the 900 MHz band, and have been demanding that this spectrum be redistributed amongst all telcos.
"The 900 MHz band should be redistributed immediately as sufficient spectrum is available in the 1800 MHz band to relocate existing users," RCOM said in its response to Trai's consultation paper on this issue.
The Anil-Ambani promoted company shared the view that no operator needed more than 2.2 MHz of second generation airwaves in the 900 MHz band and remaining capacity requirements could be met from airwaves in the 1800 MHz band without 'hurting the quality of services or coverage requirements'.
Trai had proposed three models to redistribute the 900-MHz spectrum band in it consultation paper last month. The first option involved in sticking with its 2010 recommendations, which said that airwaves in the band would be 'replaced by assignment of an equal amount of spectrum in 1800 MHz band' when licences of incumbent operators come for renewal in 2014.
It had suggested that incumbents be allowed to retain part of the airwaves they hold in the 900-MHz band and redistribute the rest. It had also proposed that incumbents could be given an option to surrender spectrum in excess of 5 MHz or units in the 900 MHz band now in exchange for equal amount of spectrum in 1800 MHz irrespective of the expiry dates of their licences.
Unlike RCOM, Tata Telservices has proposed a milder approach - to begin partial redistribution now and complete it when the licences come up for renewal. These telcos have also been supported by Mukesh Ambani-owned Infotel Broadband, which has said apex court's orders last month to cancel licenses had freed up sufficient 2G airwaves for Trai to expedite the process of redistribution.
Bharti Airtel, India's largest telco by customers and revenues, which stands to lose the most if redistribution of the 900 MHz band were to happen, has said that operators had a 'legal right to this frequency allocated to them for the initial as well as extended licence period.
"Hence, any contrary proposal for unilaterally taking away the assigned spectrum may have legal implications," the telco told Trai, while adding that the 'proposal required detailed deliberations and should be done only through a mutual agreement'.
Bharti also said that getting telcos to vacate the 900 MHz band 'for the purpose of redistribution would require the operators to make huge investments for building-up network infrastructure in the 1800 MHz band'.
"The cost of migration from 900 MHz to the 1800 MHz band, if not funded by the government, would ultimately have to be recovered from the customers, leading to a collective loss of the nation and hence will be contrary to the larger public interest," it added.
Cos differ on 4G auction timing
Mobile phone companies are also divided on the timing of 4G spectrum auctions in the 700 MHz band-while Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Tata Tele and GSM Association are lobbying for an early sale process, others like Sistema, that operates under the MTS brand, have suggested that auctions in this band happen only after six to 12 months of the 2G airwaves sale process. Telecoms minister Kapil Sibal has already announced that the government will hold 4G auctions in the 700 MHz band before March 2013.
Source : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/telecom/reliance-communications-tata-teleservices-seek-immediate-redistribution-of-900-mhz-band/articleshow/12386633.cms?curpg=1