Incumbents Oppose DoT’s 900MHz Spectrum Block Size in Pre-Bid Conference

The Department of Telecom (DoT) conducted a pre‐bid conference for addressing the queries and concerns of the stakeholders for the upcoming 800, 900, 1800 and 2100 MHz mega spectrum auction in Feb 2015.

One of the major points of discussion was the block size of 5 MHz for 900 MHz band where TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) had recommended the block size to be reduced to 3.6 MHz for better participation and ensuring business continuity of existing operators. Operators categorically sought the reasons for not accepting TRAI recommendations. Block size of 5MHz means that the incumbent [A-Vo-Id Lobby] operators lose the option of bidding for lower amount of spectrum (like 4.4 MHz or 3.6MHz or combine with other bands) for business continuity which could significantly increase the prices in certain key circles like Gujarat.

Idea Cellular & Vodafone Oppose 2100MHz Spectrum Auction
Interestingly both Idea Cellular and Vodafone suggested of not including 2100 MHz in the current auction as they will not have sufficient time for strategizing for the band. Airtel stands to gain if 2100 MHz is put up for auction as Idea and Vodafone will be focused on retaining their 900 MHz holdings and may not be able to participate aggressively for the band.

Spectrum Interferences
Operators also pointed that the spectrum provided in the 2100 MHz band in 2010 is highly interfered in the circles of J&K, Rajasthan, Punjab and Gujarat because of border proximity. The DoT stated interference has increased in the last few years and requisite steps are being considered to sort the issue with the neighboring countries.

A host of other issues were presented like ranking of operators for contiguous spectrum, availability of back haul spectrum, lock‐in period and networth criteria for operators. All these queries and probably some more will be sent to the DoT and the department will provide written replies to the queries.

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