Indian spectrum release backed by Telenor

Telenor has echoed Vodafone India’s request for the Indian government to allocate spectrum secured at auction.

Jon Fredrik Baksaas, CEO of the Norwegian operator, noted that the requirement for spectrum is urgent as operators are currently unable to meet the vast demand for service in India, saying “countries release nearly 100 per cent spectrum for commercial use, but in India, a comparably smaller amount of spectrum is released, which needs to be changed.”

Uninor, the Indian business of Telenor, does not hold 3G spectrum but may participate in the upcoming auctions for the 900MHz band. Currently, the operator provides services in 6 of India’s 22 telecom circles, with a market share of around 4.5% equating to 42 million connections.

Last week, Vodafone lodged a formal request that India’s Department of Telecommunications immediately allocate the 1800MHz spectrum that it won at auction in February. The operator paid for the spectrum in March.

Due to the DoT’s delay, Vodafone is also demanding that its current 900MHz licences be extended for 6 months from the date of the final allocation of 1800MHz spectrum. Bharti Airtel has similarly been denied access to spectrum that it has acquired and is seeking compensation from the government to cover interest payments on the loans that it took out to make the initial bid.

The Indian regulator TRAI has criticised the DoT’s sluggish progress, telling the government to be more proactive in auctioning spectrum and chastising it for holding back “coveted” frequencies.


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