Spectrum needs may trump AGR payment concerns in India

Spectrum needs may trump AGR payment concerns in India

As you might expect at a time like this, regulatory concerns in Indian telecommunications have been changing somewhat.

For example, one of the three leading operators, Vodafone Idea, has asked India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to clear its pending applications for spectrum allocation and regularise its backhaul spectrum. Clearly, with a three-week lockdown under way across the whole of India, Vodafone Idea’s main focus is on ensuring 4G network availability.

The operator has said that it is deploying capacities using all means, including the addition of cells on wheels (COW) sites wherever appropriate. The operator has also said that a pandemic response plan with risk mitigation protocols is under way while ensuring continuity of mission-critical processes for keeping its networks working.

Vodafone Idea has also set up virtual war rooms through which key team members are able to communicate, and, it says, organised temporary stay arrangements at its data centres, as well as making food and groceries available at critical locations. It is also providing dedicated vehicles to facilitate the movement of technical staff to sites.

The other big regulatory issue – AGR payments – is, for now, no longer being addressed, according to a DoT official: no notices have been sent to the telecommunications companies relating to their AGR payments, nor have any discussions taken place on the topic. The DoT focus, like that of Vodafone Idea, is entirely on smooth running of operations during the pandemic.

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