Decision on spectrum refarming unlikely today

The Telecom Commission is unlikely to take a final decision today on the contentious issue of refarming 900 Mhz spectrum, CNBC TV18 reported.

The commission, which is meeting later today, is likely to wait for the report from the internal committee of the Department of Telecommunications before taking a decision, the report said.

It will also take representations from the industry.

The issue has been hanging fire as there are stakeholders with different interests involved.

 Decision on spectrum refarming unlikely today

The refarming of the 900 Mhz spectrum was announced by the government along with the new spectrum auctions.

The refarming of the 900 Mhz spectrum was announced by the government along with the new spectrum auctions.

While GSM players are opposed to the move, CDMA players are not worried much about it.

The main reason for this is that for GSM players such as Bharti and Vodafone the licence for the 900 Mhz spectrum ends in 2014, after which they may have to surrender their spectrum.

For CDMA players, who started operations much later than the GSM players, the licence expiry is not as imminent.

The GSM players will have to bid for the 900 Mhz band in an auction. If they fail in winning the spectrum, they will have to migrate to the less efficient 1800 Mhz band, media reports say.

The auction of the 900 Mhz spectrum is likely to take place in the second half of 2013.

What is more worrying for the GSM players is that the base price for the 900 Mhz band will be double that of the 1800 Mhz.

The operators had won the 1800 Mhz spectrum in 2001 at a price of Rs1,658 crore.

According to the CNBC TV18 report, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has been told to clarify how much 900 Mhz spectrum may be refarmed.

It has also been asked about the feasibility of various refarming options and detailed modalities and logistics of the move.

According to a report in DNA, it would take several years to rebuild the required infrastructure in the 900 Mhz band after refarming. There are as many as 500 million subscribers in the band and coverage will be affected during the transition.

Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 13:14:17 IST