In an attempt to stop the re-farming of spectrum, the top telecom guns Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have sought FM Pranab Mujherjee’s immidiate intervention. Refuting TRAI’s claims of 3-4 paise incrtease in voice tariff with the study done by a well known research agency Analysis Mason, the telecom company’s CEOs argued that the tariff rates would go up by atleast 64 paise per minute. The heads claimed that the re-farming cost and fresh auction price will increase thier CapEx and OpEx and ultimately the consumers will have to bear the heat of increased tariff rates.
“We request your most urgent, personal intervention to ensure that no further decision on re-farmingof the 900 megahertz spectrum is taken, at the very least until a thorough consultation is carried out,” wrote Sanjay Kapoor, chief executive officer of Airtel; Himanshu Kapania, managing director of Idea Cellular, and Marten Pieters, MD and CEO of Vodafone India.
After the SC order in february, TRAI decided to hold fresh auction of the 2G spectrum and also recommended to redistribute the 900 MHz band spectrum. As per Analysis Mason this redistribution of 2G spectrum in 900 MHz will require the telecom industry to have close to 3 lakh base stations. The investement in setting up the technolgy will become an extra burden on the telcos and if not passed on to the mobile users in terms of swollen tariff rates, will directly affect the margins of 900 MHz spectrum holders.