Tata Teleservices on Tuesday said the government should ensure a level-playing field between incumbent telecom service providers and new GSM operators. This will help in the growth of telecom sector in India, the company said.
Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea are the three old operators, while Tata Teleservices is a new GSM operator and got spectrum in 2008.
Tata Teleservices’ managing director N Srinath told Hindustan Times that new operators have a disadvantage over the incumbents in both quality and quantity of spectrum, he said. Old operators have spectrum in the 900-Mhz band, which is very efficient, and they are holding large quantities of the bandwidth.
Telecom regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended that the 900-MHz spectrum band of incumbent operators should be replaced with the 1800-MHz band. This is called refarming. TRAI has recommended that the spectrum in 900-Mhz band should be auctioned.
“All the operators should be given an opportunity to acquire spectrum in 900-MHz band,” Srinath pointed out.
He also said the old operators have an advantage over the new GSM operators in both the quality and quantity of spectrum. “There are old incumbent operators who have 12 MHz of spectrum in GAM band, which includes the highly efficient 900-MHz band,” he said.
“Even after more than three years, Tata Teleservices has not been not able to launch services in the Delhi circle as it has not been allotted spectrum. On the other hand, there are operators who are holding up to 12Mhz of spectrum,” he said.
Srinath said that it is only due to new operators that the telecom tariff fell to 43 paise per minute from about 75 paise per minute in 2008, and the number of subscribers jumped to 584 million (March, 2010) from 261 million in March 2008.