Telecom operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications have approached the Ministry of Communications and IT, seeking deferment of the next round of spectrum auctions. The operators are of the view that due to lack of adequate spectrum being put up for auction in the 900 MHz spectrum band, operators may not be able to buy back the entire spectrum, thereby negatively impacting the continuity of provision of services.
Currently, licences are due for extension in 2015-16 in 11 circles in the country. According to the operators, the amount of spectrum being put up for the forthcoming auctions is less than the 2G spectrum currently being used by operators whose licences are due for renewal. If the operators are unable to win back the existing spectrum holding then there may not be enough spectrum in the 1800 MHz band to fall back on to ensure continuity of services . In such a scenario, operators face the risk of business disruption, including potential closure of their service offerings. Further, the limited quantum of spectrum shall be an impediment to the provision of affordable broadband data services, which will negatively impact the execution of Digital India project.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has also stated that supply side issues will affect not only the proposed auction of spectrum arising from expiry of licences in 2015-16, but will also continue to have a negative impact on all subsequent auctions of spectrum becoming available from future expiry of licences. Thus, TRAI has raised concerns over executing the forthcoming auction without resolving the spectrum constraints.