Bright Idea to solve Delhi frequency handover

5 Nov 2014

Idea Cellular has opposed the potential extension of mobile licences for Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India in Delhi, claiming that such action would violate auction rules and would hurt Idea’s business, the Economic Times writes. The duo have been lobbying the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for an extra six months on their existing licences in order to reconfigure their networks to the new frequencies without disrupting services for customers. The two telcos have pointed out that the allocation of their new spectrum was delayed by eight months, having paid for the frequencies in February this year and only receiving the airwaves late last month. So far, the DoT has refused any extension, saying that any network optimisation issues are to be dealt with by the operators, although the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has strongly criticised this stance and requested that the DoT broker a solution to limit any potential disruption.

Adding its voice to the discussion, Idea has argued that as some of the frequencies it was awarded in February’s spectrum auction are those being vacated by Vodafone and Airtel, any delay would negatively impact its own operations. In a letter to the DoT, Idea’s chief financial officer said: ‘Any delay in spectrum allocation beyond 30 November 2014 would result in [a] delay in the launch of Idea services on the said 900MHz spectrum by an equivalent period.’ Further, a statement from the company added that: ‘Any delay would make us incur loss on account of interest cost for each day of delay without corresponding revenue.’

Looking to compromise on the issue, however, Idea has proposed a reshuffle of the awarded frequencies, so that Vodafone and Airtel retain the spectrum that they currently use, whilst Idea receives the unused frequencies in the 900MHz band. The cellco claims that this would minimise disruption to customers whilst allowing Idea to begin using the 900MHz frequencies immediately.