The Department of Telecom will seek time from Empowered Group of Ministers, headed by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, for a meeting in early November to consider the issue of reallocation of spectrum to mobile operators.
“We will seek time for a EGoM meeting in early November, before (spectrum) auction starts. Chairman of EGoM will decide on the date,” Telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar told reporters at the Bharat Broadband Network event.
He said that recommendations made by Telecom Commission will be placed before the EGoM for final decision.
“Final decision will be taken by EGoM on spectrum refarming (reallocation). As per present manadate, this issue is not required to go to cabinet,” Mr. Chandrashekhar said.
Telecom Commission has recommended that existing mobile operators vacate airwaves in the 900 MHz band at the time of renewal of licences in 2014 — a move that GSM players say would cost them over Rs 66,000 crore in replacing infrastructure.
According to a study by Analysis Mason, spectrum reforming will call for redesigning of existing networks, mainly through the replacement of base stations commonly known as telecom towers.
Citing the study, GSM industry body COAI has said that such a replacement of base stations and deployment of additional sites will result in an incremental capex of Rs. 54,739 crore, and incremental annual opex of Rs 11,762 crore.
However, dual-technology (CDMA+GSM) operators’ association AUSPI has favoured the decision saying the move will create a level playing field among operators.