Feeds

Indian callers could see bills DOUBLE after spectrum auction chaos

Operators in dire warning as government mulls proposals

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Mobile phone bills in India could double if the government agrees to new regulatory proposals for upcoming 2G spectrum auctions, the country’s major operators have warned.

The telecoms ministry is currently seeking clarification on some of the proposals from regulator the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which recommended the new auction prices start at more than ten times the figure carriers paid in 2008.

The auctions have to take place before August according to a Supreme Court ruling which cancelled all the licenses doled out in 2008 after widespread corruption was uncovered.

The rival operators including Vodafone, Airtel and Telenor India have now banded together to lobby the government against TRAI’s plans.

Aside from demanding an 80 per cent cut in the proposed cost of licenses they are complaining about TRAI’s recommendation to only release a small chunk of the 1800 MHz band – just 5MHz – for auction in each service area of the country.

They also want the government to reject TRAI’s proposal forcing them to surrender the current 900MHz spectrum and switch to 1800MHz – plans which they say will lead to huge gaps in coverage, especially in rural areas.

In a press conference attended by Indian news service IANS at the end of last week, the operators ramped up the hyperbole.

“The TRAI recommendations are flawed and retrograde, regressive and uncertain, which will harm consumer interest, and will ring the death knell for the Indian telecom industry,” Airtel CEO Sanjay Kapoor is quoted as saying.

“If we were to surrender the 900 MHz spectrum and switch to 1800 MHz, you as customers will find dark holes inside and in streets and bylanes … We will need to put more towers for 1800 MHz, with more diesel, and this will impact the environment.”

Industry association the GSMA backed the operators, claiming the proposals seemed to be designed to squeeze money out of the industry for nothing but short-term gain.

It continued with the following strongly worded statement:

The proposals disregard international best practice in spectrum policy and jeopardise the investment of billions of US dollars in new mobile infrastructure in a sector that either directly, or indirectly, employs almost 10 million people and serves more than 911 million consumers. However, there are also signs that some of the operators’ dire warnings about how it will negatively impact investment and growth in the market may have been deliberately over-exaggerated.

The Times of India revealed that new Citigroup research estimates the increased auction prices would only force prices for the end user up by around 4 paise per minute, which is less than 10 per cent of the 50-60 paise per minute average call.

India has one of the fastest growing mobile phone markets in the world driven, like China’s, by a huge population and growing middle class.

However, most consumers are still using feature phones with limited 2G services.

IDC’s most recent Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker predicted that India would leapfrog the UK by 2016 to have the third biggest smartphone market in the world. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
What FTC lawsuit? T-Mobile US touts 10GB, $100 family-of-4 plan
Folks 'could use that money for more important things' says CEO Legere
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.