The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has warned that telecom services in Delhi may be disrupted partially from December, blaming DoT’s delay in fresh spectrum allocation to Airtel and Vodafone. Note that Vodafone and Airtel, together control 45 percent of total subscriber base in Delhi, roughly 20 million mobile subscribers.
The two telcos have their permits expiring this November and had acquired fresh spectrum in February 2014 through the auctions. Each telcos held 8MHz spectrum in the 900MHz spectrum band earlier but Airtel managed to snag only 6MHz and Vodafone 5MHz of spectrum in the 900MHz spectrum band. To compensate the lost spectrum in the 900Mhz band, each bought additional spectrum in the less efficient 1800Mhz spectrum band.
The Department of Telecom is yet to allocate frequencies to Airtel, while it has already allocated it to Vodafone after an eight month delay. Telcos like Vodafone have informed that it would take a week to deploy 1800MHz frequency assigned to it, nine weeks to free 3MHz spectrum in 900MHz band that it lost and three weeks for changing frequencies in the same band that are presently being held by Airtel.
Previously, the Cellular Operators Association of India wrote to DoT for immediate assignment of spectrum. TRAI is concerned that the delay might affect consumers in Delhi.