Blow to GSM players, may lose excess spectrum

Written by Agencies | Agencies | New Delhi, December 31: | Updated: Dec 31 2007, 20:00pm hrs
In what could be another blow to existing GSM mobile operators, the Government may soon demand return of excess spectrum held by them beyond eligible limit.

The move comes after the Government last week decided to allot additional spectrum based on telecom regulator TRAI's subscriber linked criteria and GSM lobby Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) accepted the decision.

Going by TRAI norms, which suggested up to six times more subscribers to become eligible for additional spectrum, the operators may end up holding excess airwaves. These surplus airwaves can accommodate 4-5 new players, sources said.

DoT has already conducted a detailed study of all GSM players with regard to their subscriber base and equivalent spectrum they hold. Most existing GSM players have 10 MHz of spectrum in major cities like Delhi and Mumbai, sources said.

Since new spectrum quantity would be decided as per TRAI formula the operators would have to return excess airwaves in many circles, they added.

However, no decision has been taken on whether DoT would enforce the rule that spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz would not be allocated, the sources said.

At the same time, DoT has begun the process of revising spectrum usage charges to maximise the revenues to the government. The Telecom Commission has been given 15 days to complete the exercise to rework the charges.