Airtel + Vodafone + Tata DoCoMo Want 700 MHz Auction – Rest Vote Against

In response to the 2G Spectrum Scam, TRAI had issued a Consulting Paper on Auction of Spectrum and had slipped in questions on the auction of 700 MHz Spectrum. Here are the responses of various stake holders,

Sunil Mittal’s Bharti Airtel wants to grab 700 MHz

We would recommend that the auction of the complete 2×45 MHz spectrum in 700 MHz band is done as soon as possible, preferably along with the auction of spectrum in 800/1800 MHz, and consequent to availability of the complete 2×45 MHz of interference free spectrum.

It is apparent now that Mittal wants to use the existing Spectrum to run his Wireless Minutes Factory and 700 MHz LTE 4G Spectrum for Mobile Data Services which is now accounting upto 85% traffic in the United States.

Vodafone India’s views are,

We believe that the 700MHz auctions should be conducted at the earliest so as to put the available spectrum to optimal use to deliver on the mobile broadband objectives enunciated in the draft NTP-2012.

Vodafone does not believe in 3G Data Business in India yet and why does it want to get 700 MHz spectrum immediately ?

Tata DoCoMo / Teleservices Responded as follows,

TTL is of the view that 700 MHz band spectrum should be independently auctioned immediately. Newer generation services are bandwidth intensive and hence ensuring that each operator has adequate spectrum would ensure that services provided are of quality.

Sure the Diversified Tata Group which appears to be the largest beneficiaries of the Coal Scam in India has enough money to get this chunk of spectrum cheap :-)

Voice Against the Auction of 700 MHz are AS follows,

Idea Cellular

In our assessment, it will take 2-3 years for 3G UMTS to stabilize and reach the mass market. 3G after stabilizing will co-exist with LTE for few more years and the real commercial scale volumes for mobile broadband using LTE technology will be achieved only 2015-2017. In view of this, it is submitted that the auction of 700MHz band be delayed by atleast 2-4 years.

Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications said,

Nowhere in the world 4G has reached a level of affordability with a scalable and sustainable business plan. Hence the timing is not right for 700 Auction and not to be mixed with 2G Auction. Thus any action contemplated for 700 MHz should be deferred till global markets mature with available devices and infrastructure in 2015.

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Infotel Broaband said,

Therefore, the Authority should initiate the exercise to refarm the spectrum in 800/900 MHz bands and ascertain the availability of spectrum in 700/800/900 MHz in each of the 22 circles and then start separate public consultation process to decide upon the band plan of 700/800/900MHz spectrum

Russian Telecom MTS Sistema said,

The clear roadmap to 700 Mhz auction and government commitment to stick to the roadmap would be critical for operators to arrive at a fair value for the auctioned spectrum.

My submission to the TRAI is as follows,
I want this to be deferred until the Government comes with a clear road-map for the sector. Indian Operators are overstretched on their Balance Sheets. Bharti Airtel and Idea have FY13 DEBT/EBITDA of 2.2x and 2.1x respectively. It is unviable for any new operator to just get 700 MHz spectrum and start data only services in India. Also we are still waiting for the eco-system to emerge in 4G TD-LTE .

Thus in all likelihood, a consensus will emerge that the auction of 800/1800 MHz spectrum for operators in the Wireless Spectrum Scam will sail through and auction for the rest of the bands will be deferred. Stay tuned for more.

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