The legal department of India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has reportedly endorsed proposals put forward by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that call for the allocation of additional 2G spectrum to those cellcos which have already received their initial 4.4MHz of start-up frequencies. According to India’s Economic Times, the most likely operator to gain from such a decision is Reliance Communications (RCOM), which having received its initial 4.4MHz in all of its operating region is awaiting the further 1.8MHz; under the existing system, which works on a first-come first-served basis, RCOM is in line for immediate spectrum allocation in just two circles. Meanwhile, one of those cellcos likely to be worst affected by such a change to legislation is Tata Teleservices, which has still to receive its start-up spectrum in Delhi, which is widely considered one of the most lucrative circles.
At present, allocation of 2G spectrum is on hold, due in part to the fact that no new methodology has been finalised for awarding such frequencies. Operators, however, have argued that devising a new method for spectrum allocation is futile due to a general scarcity of spectrum; a DoT report issued earlier in the year, which the Economic Times claimed to have a copy of, confirmed there is no free 2G spectrum in the 900MHz band, while there are only small amounts free in the 1800MHz band. Further, the report claimed that 2G spectrum is now available only in ten of the country’s 22 telecom circles, with Delhi and Mumbai having just 3.6MHz and 2.2MHz of 2G frequencies free respectively.