India’s Tata Teleservices is looking to liberalise its CDMA spectrum in at least four regions as it prepares to trade the spectrum, likely with Telenor India, as it needs to offer 4G services to keep up with the country’s major players which have announced 4G rollout plans.
Under the country’s new spectrum trading rules, which the cabinet approved last month, an operator is required to “liberalise” spectrum that wasn’t acquired in an auction by paying the market, or auction-determined, price before it can trade the airwaves.
Tata Teleservices, which is the country’s seventh largest operator with a 6 per cent share, has advised the Department of Telecom its intention to liberalise its 800MHz spectrum in Delhi and Andhra Pradesh, and plans to do the same for Mumbai and Maharashtra, the Economic Times reported. It also may consider freeing up the spectrum in Haryana at a later time.
The operator’s 800MHz spectrum in the four regions has attracted interest from rivals because they are among the country’s highest revenue service areas, the Times said.
Tata Tele had been linked to Telenor India, which operates 2G service in only six regions and is understood to be looking to expand nationwide. But the Telenor unit balked at the valuation of Tata Tele, which has more than INR250 billion ($3.8 billion) in debt.
The new spectrum trading rules would enable Telenor to expand by just purchasing the 800MHz spectrum to roll out 4G services.
Tata Tele plans to introduce 4G services as well, but first needs to liberalise its spectrum, the Times said.
Reliance Communications and 4G upstart Reliance Jio Infocomm were the first operators in India to take advantage of new regulations allowing spectrum sharing, with plans to share the 800MHz band in 10 service areas.