India’s #2 telecom operator, Vodafone has asked the government to immediately allot its 1800MHz spectrum waves that it had won during the Feb 2014 spectrum auction. Vodafone has addressed several letter to the government regarding this issue but not action has been taken till date.
Vodafone’s spectrum licence for its key circles of Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata expire in November and the non-availability of the new spectrum band puts its continuity of service at risk.
“Vodafone India has formally requested the DoT (Department of Telecommunications) and regulator TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) for immediate allotment of the 1800 MHz spectrum, won during auctions held in February 2014,” said Vodafone in a note to the media.
DoT has not assigned the frequencies even to a single auction winner of the spectrum auctions. These companies (Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Jio, Idea, Aircel, and Reliance Communications) paid a total of Rs. 62,162 crores for the spectrum and still haven’t received the frequencies for tuning their network equipments.
Vodafone India had spent Rs. 19,600 crores for getting 1800 MHz waves in 11 circles and 900 MHz waves in three circles.
Vodafone has also asked the government to extend its licence expiry by 6 months from the data of allocation due the delay in spectrum allotment caused by DoT.
The spectrum licences of Airtel and Vodafone are due for expiry in November across the major circles of Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai. These circles contribute to a significant subscriber and revenue share for all telcos.
Vodafone said that only 7 weeks were left to replace the current 900 MHz spectrum used in country with the new 900 MHz waves won during the February auctions.
If the DoT doesn’t do the needful in time then it will result in major network connectivity issues to the public.
Now, the fact the DoT took a lot of time to allot the spectrum to the winner of the Feb spectrum auctions cements the fact that it is not easy to do business in India. These slow government processes not only cause hindrance in the progress of local companies, but also repel foreign investment. Let’s hope that government takes care of these issue with priority and prevents them from happening in future.