New Delhi: Telecom operator TTSL have said CDMA operators were being "punished for being more efficient" and that forced them to seek GSM spectrum for sustaining growth.
Tata Teleservices (TTSL) Chief Executive and Managing Director N Srinath in an interview to a Tata group website said CDMA operators like TTSL were not provided a level- playing field on spectrum.
"We were given lower allocations for the same number of subscribers, had to work within the limited availability in the one band (800Mhz as against two bands of 900/1800 Mhz for GSM operators), and, over time, had no headroom to expand or get additional spectrum," he said.
He said that the argument presented to TTSL for this was that since CDMA was more efficient than GSM, CDMA operators could make do with less spectrum.
"In essence, we were being punished for being more efficient. This forced CDMA operators to seek GSM spectrum in order to be able to continue to grow."
He added that even when CDMA players got GSM spectrum, it was far lower than that to incumbent GSM players, some of them had spectrum in excess of their licence entitlements.
"For example, in spite of applying for it in 2008, TTSL is still to get allocation of even start-up GSM spectrum in Delhi, one of the largest markets in India for mobile services," Srinath said.
He, however, also said that it is "heartening to note that several of the new policy announcements seem aimed at correcting some of these imbalances and are, therefore, a step in the right direction, though the finer details are still be to announced on a few issues".
The government had decided to consider allotment of initial spectrum to Tata Teleservices after completion of the auction process, subject to availability of spectrum.
Government had also announced to re-auction GSM spectrum in Delhi, Mumbai, Rajasthan and Karnataka as there were no bidders for airwaves during recent auction in these telecom service area due to high base price.
Srinath expressed concerns over high reserve prices for the spectrum auctions and the various alternate proposals to charge the existing holding of spectrum by operators.
He said the company is looking to "improve the acceptance of our 3G services, including further rationalisation of tariffs, promoting multimedia services and increasing the penetration of smartphones in the market," in coming days.
According to sector regulator TRAI, TTSL had 76.74 million susbcribers in October 2012.
First Published: Thursday, December 20, 2012, 19:24