January 26, 2021

Expressing concerns over spectrum scarcity in the country, Trai Chairman Rahul Khullar on Monday said the availability of airwaves in India is less than 40 percent as compared to European nations.

“If you compare country in Europe or rest of the world which are similar in size to Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh… actually the spectrum availability is less than 40 percent of what is available in the rest of the world, that is our one big problem,” Khullar said while speaking at Trai’s consumer outreach programme here.

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For the last many years, the spectrum availability has been very scarce in India, he said adding it is even less than 50 percent of the airwaves available in China.

The spectrum auction has just been concluded and most of these airwaves auctioned were the same available in 1994, there is no additional spectrum, Khullar said.

“…so what we need to ask ourselves as citizens is – are we going to thrive and live with same amount of spectrum that we lived 20 years ago when there were hardly any connections and now when there are nine hundred million? And if you don’t increase the supply of spectrum, sorry the quality of service just cannot be delivered…”

So, the most important thing is that the availability of spectrum has to be increased, he added.

Speaking on 3G services, Khullar said, “3G spectrum as you will recall in 2010 auction when it was sold there was nobody who could buy spectrum all over the country…I think except BSNL….they got it in very small amounts.”

“…what has happened in the last six, seven years is people have got used to 2G, suddenly everybody is moving to 3G because it is faster, you get videos, you get all sorts of things and as Internet gets more quicker. So what is happening is, the pressure on the limited quantity of spectrum has increased enormously…,” he added.

He further said that unless the quantity of spectrum is increased, the speed cannot be raised.

“…the problems are different in urban and rural India, in rural India you need infrastructure to take it to last man, and in urban India it is huge conjuncture on the limited quantity of spectrum.”

Stressing the need to have more spectrum, Khullar said that a country like India with huge data requirements cannot work with a 40 percent of the spectrum as compared with the rest of the world, “it simply cannot happen”.