Five telecom operators, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone, have written to Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, saying the high cost of airwaves, as recommended by The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), can raise mobile tariffs by up to 30 per cent.

“It is respectfully submitted that the high cost of spectrum will translate into much a higher tariff for consumers. It is estimated that tariffs will go up by at least 25-30 per cent,” a letter by five service providers to Mr. Sibal said.

“TRAI has failed to appreciate that such high prices are completely unsustainable in a highly price sensitive market such as India which has an average revenue per user of less than Rs.90, which has a poor teledensity and requires huge investments to roll out networks in rural and remote areas,” they said.

The letter, jointly written by Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Uninor and Videocon Telecommunications, said that the high auction price, if at all paid, would not leave any resource in the hands of the operators to do the required network rollouts. “In fact, it is likely to push back the industry by several years, thus, compromising both connectivity as well as broadband agenda of the country,” the telecom operators said.

TRAI has recommended a base price of Rs.3,622 crore for a megahertz of spectrum at pan-India level that is around ten times higher than the price for 2G licences in 2008. — PTI

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