CHENNAI: Premium services often reach late in far flung areas. But the government may reverse the trend as for mobile services are concerned. If Trai has its way, telcos buying the premium 700 Mhz bandwidth have to rollout services in villages and towns with as little as 10,000 population within a set timeframe. Ironically, despite prevailing spectrum rollout obligations, over 55,000 villages still do not have any coverage.
The 700 Mhz is a sought-after band across the world due to its efficiency and higher penetration inside buildings. Due to lower frequency, it provides wider coverage, which reduces the number of towers required for setting up the network and thus significantly reduces capital expenditure involved in making the network live. This will likely be put on the block for the first time next fiscal, and considering its superiority, Trai has put a premium base price of Rs 11,485 crore per Mhz - the highest rate for any telecom radiowave in India so far. Telcos want the government to defer auctioning this band citing underutilisation.
On the other hand, 2G, 3G and 4G services offered using 1800, 2100 and 2500 Mhz are priced Rs 2,873 crore, Rs 3,746 crore and Rs 5,829 crore respectively. As on the quarter ended September, 2015, there are 27 million broadband connections in rural areas against 94 million in urban.
Similarly, if 84 million Net connections exist in rural areas, in urban locales it is 120 million, clearly showing a disparity.