NEW DELHI: With the telecom regulator Trai preparing to auction the premium 700 MHz band, operators have asked the watchdog to delay the auction process until enough devices are available for services. Alternately, the operators suggested that the government can auction the 2100 MHz and 2300/2500 MHz bands, which can be used to provide 3G and 4G services.
The 700 MHz band, which is twice as efficient as the 900 MHz band and is best suited for 4G services, could be auctioned later.
Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio, which is yet to launch its 4G services, has also suggested two-year evaluation of the ecosystem before radiowaves in this band are auctioned.
“It will be prudent to not auction the spectrum in 700 MHz band now. A recommended approach would be to do an ecosystem evaluation in two years time and plan the auctions accordingly,” Reliance Jio said in reply to Trai's consultation paper on value of spectrum for the next round of spectrum auction.
According to Trai paper, the cost of delivering mobile services in 700 MHz band is approximately 70 per cent cheaper than 2100 MHz band.
While Bharti Airtel also echoed same concerns said, “Any immediate auction of the spectrum in 700 MHz band will lead to underutilisation of the spectrum for several years and block industry's fund and therefore it should be auctioned only after development of a strong device ecosystem.”
Vodafone said while the ecosystem in this band is developing, “necessary caution may be exercised in respect of the terms of auction, including valuation, reserve price, rollout obligations, etc.”
A divide among telecom operators was also seen with respect to new spectrum holding limit rule proposed by the regulator.
As per present rule, spectrum cap in a frequency band is 50 per cent of the spectrum assigned in each band in the respective service area and 25 per cent of the total spectrum assigned in all bands put together in each service area.
While Reliance Jio, RCom and Sistema Shyam Teleservices favoured Trai proposal to consider 700 MHz , 800 MHz and 900 MHz as one for the purpose of imposing spectrum holding limit, telecom major Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Aircel, Telenor and Tata Tele voiced against it.