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Creating Ripples

ST Team
Thursday, November 29, 2007
ST Team
The ‘spectrum’ heat is on..
Ever since the mobile phones became a necessity in India, the telecom industry has seen a fast paced robust growth. Since then the industry has been witnessing intense discussions and even altercations. Latest addition to this is the controversy over allocation of 2G spectrum, leading to a war of words between operators over spectrum allocation. Top industry leaders like Reliance Communication’s Anil Ambani and Bharti telecom’s Sunil Mittal have also joined the battle.

For mobile operators, India is a hot destination. The number of subscribers is exploding every passing day with more than six million people being added to the subscriber base every month. Almost seven million people have been added to the subscriber base in September alone, taking the number of wireless phone connections in the country to 210 million plus. The earnings for the private sector service providers have also gone up by 71 percent.

The rift
Controversy started when the Telecommunications Engineering Centre (TEC), an arm of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), proposed the new norms for the allocation of 2G spectrum. TEC’s report, which asked operators to pack in more subscribers before they become eligible for additional spectrum, had effectively put all existing operators out of the contest for additional spectrum. Besides, the decision of the Telecom ministry to award CDMA players, such as Reliance Communications and HFCL, a license to run GSM services as well has made the existing GSM players indignant.

Expressing anguish over this development, Chairman of the Bharti Telecom, Sunil Mittal, wrote to the secretary of the DoT, exposing the flaws in the proposed policy and requesting that the department should ensure that no spectrum is allocated which may compromise the legitimate rights of the existing operators.

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