AUSPI seeks spectrum refarming in 900 MHz band

Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal has said the issue of spectrum refarming would be placed before the Empowered Group of Ministers.

Updated: Jun 25, 2013, 21:27 PM IST

New Delhi: Industry body AUSPI, which represents CDMA and dual technology players, has said the government should go ahead with refarming of spectrum in 900 MHz band.

In a letter to Finance Minister P Chidambaram, AUSPI said the Centre should proceed with the process of refarming, starting with the spectrum in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata which are due for renewal in late 2014.

Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal has said the issue of spectrum refarming would be placed before the Empowered Group of Ministers.

GSM telecom operators mainly Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular have opposed spectrum refarming as they will need to vacate 900 megahertz frequency band, in which cost of providing service is less compared to other frequency bands, or pay high price for continuing services in the band.

GSM firms body COAI has been claiming that change in frequency for transmitting mobile signals could cost the telecom firms over Rs one lakh crore cumulatively.

However, Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) said COAI is quoting "highly exaggerated and incorrect estimates to push their case to retain 900 MHz spectrum".

AUSPI, which represents dual technology players such as TTSL, Reliance Communications and Sistema Shyam Teleservices said: "We also urge the government not to be swayed by COAI?s deliberate and disingenuous campaign of disinformation on the costs associated with the refarming process."

The body added "true costs are substantially lower."

It added the new entrants have in fact been allocated spectrum "only in the less cost effective 1800 MHz band" right from the beginning.

"This is due to the unavailability of spectrum in the 900 MHz band after allocation to the incumbent operators, who continue to hold spectrum far in excess of the contracted 6.2 MHz," AUSPI added.

Reacting to the AUSPI's contention, COAI in a statement said: "We are in total disagreement with the AUSPI representation ...As we find it to be ill-conceived and having no factual basis at all."

COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews also said the dual- technology players, represented by AUSPI, had equal opportunity to avail the 900 MHz spectrum now in contention, when they were bidding for the 800 MHz spectrum back in 2001.

But, he said, "they opted to play safe and remain in the sidelines with the more efficient 800 MHz spectrum."

"Even in March 2013, when the 900 MHz spectrum was made available at auction, these dual tech operators restrained from bidding for the spectrum," Mathews added.