The chiefs of telecom giants Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular have written a letter to the finance minister seeking an intervention on spectrum refarming, a move which the telecom chiefs said would result in call rates going up by as much 64 paise per minute.
The spectrum refarming as recommended by the telecom regulator TRAI would mean operators would have to migrate from the current 800 MHz and 900 MHz to 1800 MHz of spectrum when their permits come up for renewal.
“…the current TRAI proposal will have a substantial cost to the industry, result in an increase in retail tariffs and cause significant inconvenience to consumers with no benefit to any stakeholder... the maximum harm will be to the rural consumer… as well as to the large population of waiting-to-be-connected,” the CEOs said in their letter to Pranab Mukherjee.
The letter was jointly written by Sanjay Kapoor, CEO (India and South Asia) Bharti Airtel, Marten Pieters MD and CEO, Vodafone India, and Idea Cellular managing director Himanshu Kapania. The letter cited findings from a study conducted by global telecom advisory firm Analysys Mason, which analysed the impact of spectrum refarming on the industry.
The findings from Analysys Mason study said that after moving to 1800 MHz, telecom operators using 900 Mhz spectrum would need to replace 2.9 lakh base stations and install an additional 1.7 towers to provide equivalent coverage. “This would require an incremental capital expenditure of R54,739 crore and incremental annual operating expenditure of R11,762 crore,” the study said.
CDMA operators’ body AUSPI, however, is in favour of refarming.