India's COAI seeks to extend 4G rollout by five years


India's COAI seeks to extend 4G rollout by five years

Staff writer

Indian telecom industry body COAI has requested the Department of Telecom (DoT) to extend the deadline for roll out of 4G services to 2020, reported the Economic Times.

"[The] DoT is requested to review and relax the roll out obligations and extend the timelines for meeting the roll out by [an] additional 5 years," COAI director-general Rajan S Mathews said in a letter to the DoT.

According to the Economic Times, the industry body cited difficulties with LTE-TDD (a 4G technology) as one of the reasons for the requested delay.

India allocated the broadband wireless access spectrum through auction in 2010 to successful bidders - Aircel, Bharti Airtel, Qualcomm (acquired by Bharti), Tikona, Infotel (now Reliance Jio Infocomm) and Augere.

The license terms require that by July 2015 license holders must cover 90% of the population in urban areas and 50% in rural areas for the circles in which they won spectrum.

But so far only Bharti Airtel and Aircel have launched services. Reliance Jio Infocomm, the only company to have won spectrum in all 22 telecom circles, plans to launch its services in 2015.

"The inability of the operators to even launch the services on the allocated spectrum is primarily on account of delay in development of the requisite device and network ecosystem, a prime factor which is predominantly out of the control of telecom service providers," said COAI.

The industry body said that roll out of 4G services using BWA spectrum required more mobile towers compared to other spectrum for adequate coverage. It also cited reasons like restriction from municipal bodies, interference from public due to apprehension from mobile radiation, clearances from various authorities in laying out fiber to connect the towers, and severe delays in obtaining clearances from the spectrum wing of the DoT required for installing mobile sites.