Telecom companies seek clarity on 470-698 Mhz licensing

The 700 Mhz spectrum auction in July may be given a miss by India’s top telcos if the telecom ministry decides to leave airwaves in the 470-698 Mhz band unlicensed and thus free of charge.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) will soon write to the government, seeking clarity on whether it will keep the 470-698 Mhz band unlicensed for deploying WiFi. It does not make business sense for operators to pay hefty sums for the higher band if they can get the 470-698 Mhz spectrum’s excellent propagation characteristics for free.
The lower band would be much more cost-efficient since the government is pricing 1 Mhz in the higher band at a staggering Rs 11,485 crore – a record for airwaves. Owing to high spectral efficiency of 700 Mhz, the price is four times the rate of spectrum in the 1800 Mhz band.
“Why would anyone pay such a price for a band (of 700 Mhz) when a lower band is being given away for free?” said Rajan Mathews, director general of COAI. “The problem is that the government has permitted trials in the band right under 700 Mhz for WiFi technologies in order to find the best way for last-mile broadband connectivity through the Bharat Broadband network (BBNL).”