GSM Cos Against Low­er­ing of Base Price for 800 MHz Air­waves

The Economic Times - - Companies - KALYAN PAR­BAT

In­dia’s GSM op­er­a­tors have told the telecom depart­ment (DoT) that it should not re­duce the base price sug­gested by the sec­tor reg­u­la­tor for the auc­tion of 800 MHz fre­quen­cies, op­pos­ing a de­mand from com­pa­nies which use this band to pro­vide CDMA-based ser­vices. In a let­ter to telecom sec­re­tary MF Fa­rooqui, GSM lobby group Cel­lu­lar Op­er­a­tors As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dia (COAI) said the re­serve price rec­om­mended by the Telecom Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity of In­dia was “sig­nif­i­cantly lower than the prices re­alised” for 900 MHz band in the re­cently-con­cluded auc­tion.

In Fe­bru­ary, Trai sug­gested .` 2,685 crore as the base price for a mega­hertz of al­lIn­dia CDMA air­waves.

The sug­gested base prices for 800 MHz band­width in Delhi, Mum­bai and Kolkata were ef­fec­tively “39%, 37% and 48% be- low” the win­ning bids of 900 MHz spec­trum in these cir­cles in the Fe­bru­ary auc­tion, COAI said. ET has seen a copy of the let­ter. COAI’s mem­bers in­clude the na­tion’s top three mo­bile ser­vices providers -- Bharti Air­tel, Vodafone In­dia and Idea Cel­lu­lar. The 900 MHz band is typ­i­cally used by GSM op­er­a­tors in In­dia. CDMA op­er­a­tors like Sis­tema Shyam Te­le­ser­vices had called the base price too high and wanted the govern­ment to re­duce it. But, COAI says that is not nec- es­sary, es­pe­cially if the Depart­ment of Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions (DoT) can en­sure 5 MHz of con­tigu­ous, or con­tin­u­ous, spec­trum in blocks of 1.25 MHz within the 800 MHz fre­quen­cies. Con­tin­u­ous spec­trum is more ef­fi­cient than non-con­tigu­ous band­width, and can be used for de­liv­er­ing data ser­vices based on fourth-gen­er­a­tion long-term evo­lu­tion tech­nol­ogy. The sec­tor reg­u­la­tor had also cited the spec­trum’s higher ef­fi­ciency for rec­om­mend­ing the base price, which was more than the .` 1,765 crore per 1 MHz mar­ket-dis­cov­ered price for 1800 MHz band­width in the Fe­bru­ary auctions.

In Fe­bru­ary, DoT had of­fered pan-In­dia spec­trum in the 1800 MHz cat­e­gory. At the time, 900 MHz was avail­able only in Mum­bai, Delhi and Kolkata cir­cles.

Sis­tema Shyam, which called Trai’s val­u­a­tion method­ol­ogy fal­la­cious, wanted DoT to set the base price be­low 80% of the price of 1800 MHz. The Telecom Com­mis­sion, the top de­ci­sion- mak­ing body within DoT, takes the fi­nal call on pric­ing. Mean­while, DoT may ring in dual pric­ing for con­tigu­ous and non-con­tigu­ous spec­trum to be auc­tioned in the 800 MHz fre­quency band, sources said. The depart­ment’s plans are in re­sponse to Trai feed­back that con­tin­u­ous spec­trum for a block of 5 MHz is avail­able only in four of the 22 ser­vice ar­eas.

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