Indian telcos may forgo excess spectrum in 2014

Melissa Chua
07 Mar 2011

India's GSM operators may have to forgo excess spectrum come 2014, when their licenses are due to renewal.

A memo issued by the Department of Telecom suggests compelling operators to hand back spectrum holdings in excess of 6.2Mbps.

Operators such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular currently hold up to 10MHz of 2G airwaves.

About 11 of India’s 14 mobile operators are expected to renew their permits from 2014, as the government had given away 20-year licenses from the mid-90s.

Operators may also be required to pay market value for the basic 6.2MHz of 2G airwaves upon license renewal.

India’s government has yet to decide on a formula for calculating the value of spectrum when the permits are due to be renewed. Regulator Trai had previously proposed that each MHz of 2G airwaves be priced at 17.69 billion rupees.

But another proposal involves tying 2G spectrum prices to closing bid prices from last year’s 3G spectrum auctions.

Under this recommendation, the country’s operators would have to foot between 128.25 billion and 207.3 billion rupees per MHz.

The Economic Times quoted a top GSM operator saying payment and price recommendations were still under discussion and nowhere near final.

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