Indian cellcos call for delay to spectrum auction

10 Nov 2017

Incumbent Indian operators are clashing with newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm over the proposed timing of the next round of spectrum auctions.

In a submission to telecoms regulator Trai's consultation on the next spectrum auction, Idea Cellular has insisted that the timing of the consultation is inappropriate and there is no business case for the acquisition of any new spectrum given the current state of the market, the Economic Timesreported.

Operators are in a state of hyper competition and below cost pricing due in part to the entry into the scene of Reliance Jio, which launched with an aggressive pricing strategy of offering completely free services and now only charges for data.

In addition, many operators are already grappling with high debts accrued during previous spectrum auctions.

Market leader Bharti Airtel likewise called for the consultation process for the auction to be delayed to between September and December next year and an opportune time for the auction would be the end of that financial year.

Vodafone India meanwhile asserted that the timing of the auction should take into account the financial state of the industry as well as the wave of industry consolidation taking place. But the operator stopped short of specifying a recommended timeframe.

By contrast, Reliance Jio stated that the auction schedule should be left up to the discretion of the government, and called on the department to develop a 10-year roadmap for the availability of spectrum across multiple bands.

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