Permits expired, but Bharti Airtel, Vodafone to get extention; relief for Delhi, Mumbai users

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New Delhi | Updated: December 6, 2014 10:43:22 AM

Mobile subscribers in Delhi and Mumbai will be spared of further call drops and network congestion as the department...

SpectrumThe 20-year licence for 900 MHz for Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India for Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata circles lapsed last month.

Mobile subscribers in Delhi and Mumbai will be spared of further call drops and network congestion as the department of telecommunications (DoT) has agreed to offer a 45-day extension — till January 14, 2015 — to Bharti Airtel and Vodafone for migrating to new frequencies.

The DoT has recommended to the telecom commission that “the joint proposal submitted by Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular for Delhi service area may be considered for allowing Vodafone to use 3 MHz spectrum that was allotted to Idea Cellular during the transition period (up to January 14, 2015) in Delhi service area”. Telecom Commission is the highest decision making body on policy matters relating to the sector.

For Mumbai circle, DoT has recommended the commission to consider allowing Vodafone to use 1.8 MHz spectrum allotted to Bharti Airtel during the transition period which is upto December 15, 2014, for changeover of frequencies in 900 MHz band in the circle. The telecom commission is expected to meet on Monday to take a final call on the matter.

The DoT’s recommendation on extension of time for a changeover is based on the joint proposal by the telcos. DoT said the operators have agreed to pay spectrum usage charges (SUC) as per the actual allocation from the date of earmarking or allocation of spectrum

The 20-year licence for 900 MHz for Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India for Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata circles lapsed last month.

Earlier, the operators had blamed DoT for delaying allotment of new spectrum which they had bagged in the auctions held in February and demanded more time for the switchover.

Telecom regulator Trai had also warned DoT that services may be disrupted partially from December due to delay by DoT in fresh spectrum allocation to Bharti Airtel and Vodafone. These operators have about 20 million mobile subscribers in Delhi, which account for 45% of the total subscriber base.

Both Vodafone and Bharti Airtel have given up a share of their 900 MHz which they had in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. While in Delhi, Bharti retained 5 MHz of the 8 MHz which it had earlier bagged in the February auction. Similarly, Vodafone also gave up 2 MHz of 900 MHz spectrum in Delhi from 8 MHz to 6 MHz. On other hand, Idea, which did not have 900 MHz band of airwaves, now has 5 MHz.

In Mumbai, Bharti Airtel has agreed to allow Vodafone use its 1.8 MHz of 900 band spectrum from November 29, 2014, to December 15, 2014. In Kolkata, Vodafone will use 0.4 MHz  of Bharti in addition to its holding of 7.8 MHz.

Both Bharti and Vodafone have acquired additional 1,800 MHz spectrum to make up for the 900 MHz loss. Mobile signals transmitted in 900 MHz band cover almost double area compared to signals transmitted in 1800 MHz band.

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