Vodafone says: Where is the spectrum we paid for?

Vodafone India has formally requested the Department of Telecommunications and regulator TRAI for immediate allotment of the 1800MHz spectrum, which it had won in auctions.

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“With only 7 weeks left, when as per DoT, the presently deployed spectrum in 900MHz is to be replaced by 900MHz won in auctions. Hence, timely earmarking of the spectrum won is essential for the company to replace existing spectrum which is in full operational use in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata Service Areas,” it said.

Vodafone won considerably spectrum in the three metros in the 1800 MHz band. In addition, Vodafone also acquired 900 MHz spectrum, most of which it had held from before the auctionn itself.

According to sources, both Vodafone and Airtel want to launch 4G services in Mumbai and Delhi before Reliance does so. However, despite having paid for the spectrum almost six months ago, Vodafone is yet to get its hands on the same.

It also said that in Delhi, it has to redesign its network as the quantity of spectrum in 900 MHz is set to get reduced.

“In places like Delhi the quantum of 900MHz will in fact get reduced from 8MHz to 5MHz. Further in all circles the frequency spots for 900MHz and 1800MHz are changing. In such a scenario it is imperative to deploy the 1800MHz spectrum won in auctions first which will then enable release of the existing 900MHz. Despite several reminders, the spectrum has not been earmarked till now,” it said.

“Under the current situation, with very little time left and spectrum in 1800MHz not yet earmarked, any such replacement of 900MHz on the prescribed date is bound to considerably impact services despite best efforts by the company even on 24X7 basis. The extensive robust network of Vodafone India has thousands of sites, IBS and repeaters. This changeover under normal circumstances could take at least 6 months after the earmarking of frequencies.”

“DoT is also on record saying that looking at the technical and implementation issues, it is observed that 6 months period may not be sufficient to migrate the network from 900MHz to 1800MHz band on extension of licence(s) (Reference back by DoT on TRAI’s May 2010 recommendations). The present changeover entails similar technical and implementation issues considering reduction in 900MHz and change in overall frequencies.”

Vodafone said further delay would result in inconvenience tto the public due to network disruption and poor coverage.

“The public cannot afford any loss of service because of these changeovers not getting completed due to non-earmarking of spectrum in 1800MHz band by DoT. This is a critical situation and may have repercussions bigger than any other quality of service issue seen in the history of mobile telecom in India. This delay in earmarking will seriously affect Vodafone India’s services, which the company cannot afford, and it requires necessary corrective steps and actions from DoT.”

The company has requested DoT to earmark the spectrum without any delay and further take up this issue of changeover in totality on an immediate basis such that there is no loss/inconvenience caused to public as regard to non-availability of service.

“This will include continuation on existing in use 900MHz frequencies for at least 6 months from the date of earmarking of 1800MHz spectrum, which is a necessity.”