COAI seeking extension of 4G rollout deadline

23 Dec 2014

Telecom industry group the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has reportedly requested that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) extend the current deadline for the rollout of 4G services to 2020, India’s Economic Times reports. Amid claims that the development of such services has been hampered by both technical issues and regulatory procedures, in a letter to the DoT regarding the matter the COAI director-general Rajan S Mathews was cited as saying: ‘[The] DoT is requested to review and relax the rollout obligations and extend the timelines for meeting the rollout by [an] additional five years.’

With only Bharti Airtel and Aircel having rolled out commercial 4G services to date, the COAI added: ‘The inability of the operators to even launch the services on the allocated spectrum is primarily on account of delay in development of the requisite device and network ecosystem, a prime factor which is predominantly out of the control of telecom service providers.’ Specifically the industry group claimed that the rollout of infrastructure has been delayed as a result of interference from the public linked to apprehension over mobile radiation issues; also citing problems gaining clearance from authorities for the laying of fibre to connect new towers; and significant delays in obtaining the clearances needed from the spectrum wing of the DoT for the installation of mobile sites.

As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, a total of six operators bagged spectrum in the 2.3GHz band suitable for LTE-TDD services in June 2010, those being Aircel, Bharti Airtel, Qualcomm (which has since acquired by Airtel), Tikona, Infotel (now Reliance Jio Infocomm) and Augere. As per these concessions, licensees are required to cover 90% of the population in urban areas and 50% in rural regions in those circles in which they won spectrum by July 2015.