Vodafone India has requested that the country’s Department of Telecommunications immediately allocate the 1800MHz spectrum that it won at auction in February.
The operator has stated that its services in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai will be affected if it does not have access to the airwaves. It secured access to airwaves covering these areas in February for $3 billion.
Vodafone has implored the DoT to provide it with an answer within a day, saying that the delay in the allocation “will seriously affect Vodafone India’s services, which the company cannot afford, and it requires necessary corrective steps and actions from DoT”.
In addition, Vodafone has requested that its current 900MHz licences be extended for 6 months beyond the final allocation of 1800MHz spectrum. The currently licensed 900MHz spectrum is due to be replaced by spectrum in a different part of the 900MHz band, reducing the overall amount in use from 8MHz to 5MHz.
The operator has appealed to the DoT to deploy the 1800MHz spectrum so that the existing 900MHz spectrum can then be replaced. Vodafone maintains this is essential ahead of the upcoming switch of frequency spots, as its services will be considerably impacted.
Vodafone boss Martin Pieters said: "The change-over to the new spectrum will take some time and cannot be done so fast. So we want an extension of at least six months to our existing licence from the date we are allotted the spectrum."
A migration of Vodafone’s network from 900MHz to 1800Mhz spectrum will take around six months. The operator is India’s second largest with 173.8 million connections at the end of Q3 2014.
Pieters also noted that Vodafone believes it should be compensated for the payment it has made so far towards the new spectrum auction, with Bharti Airtel trying the same tactic. The Indian market leader has also not been given access to the spectrum it secured at auction, and believes the government should pay the interest on the money that it borrowed in order to bid.
Misgivings over spectrum allocation notwithstanding, Vodafone recently demonstrated its commitment to India by pledging to invest $1 billion into upgrading its Indian network over the next few years.