Indian operators ask that ‘free’ CDMA spectrum be reclassified

The lack of bids on CDMA spectrum in India has prompted a number of major operators to ask that the government reallocate some of these frequencies for GSM-based operations. Airtel, Idea and Vodafone have suggested to the Department of Telecommunications that the available 800MHz spectrum should be used for the more popular technology.

A letter sent by the three operators to the DoT read: “With the diminishing interest of operators in CDMA and the reducing subscriber base of the technology, we believe that we need to harmonise and reconfigure the existing Indian CDMA band in line with the global practice.”

The operators have recommended that the 800MHz spectrum could be used as an “extended” 900MHz band, thereby boosting the availability of GSM spectrum by as much as 10MHz, or 40%. The operators have formally requested that spectrum from 880MHz onwards be made available for GSM.

Tata Teleservices was the sole active CDMA operator in India. Following the cancellation of its licences, it is set to shut down its CDMA operation in Jammu and Kashmir before the January 17th deadline. While the operator was expected to reacquire its CDMA spectrum at the recent auctions, it deemed the reserve price too expensive to warrant bidding. Tata’s withdrawal from the CDMA race means that the frequencies between 880-890MHz are now uncontested.

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