RCOM reportedly looking to return 1800MHz spectrum

30 Jun 2017

Debt-laden wireless provider Reliance Communications (RCOM), has reportedly approached the telecom ministry to request permission to return a portion of its 1800MHz spectrum holdings. The Economic Times cites unnamed sources as saying that the cellco is hoping to surrender ‘small quantities’ of airwaves in four circles – Mumbai, Karnataka, Haryana and Punjab – with a view to avoiding paying the remaining instalments for the spectrum and has requested a refund for some of the payments it has already made. The frequency in question is understood to refer to four 2×0.6MHz blocks of spectrum purchased by the operator in the February 2014 and March 2015 auctions. As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the Mumbai airwaves (Feb-14) were priced at INR1.63 billion (USD25.2 million), whilst the frequencies in Haryana, Karnataka and Punjab (all Mar-15) cost the cellco INR280 million, INR1.11 billion and INR426 million respectively. The report follows an agreement from RCOM’s lenders to grant the cellco a ‘standstill’ until December 2017 – during which it will not need to service its loans, and its debts will not accrue interest – to allow the operator to complete several transactions that will more than halve its debt burden of INR450 billion.