Bharti Airtel is seeking compensation from the country’s government to cover the interest on money it borrowed to secure spectrum to which it is yet to receive access, according to The Economic Times.
The spectrum in the 1.8GHz and 900MHz bands was secured in an auction in February and India’s largest operator has urged the government to speed up the process to allot the airwaves.
In a letter seen by The Economic Times, the company said that despite paying INR55.25 billion ($911 million) to the government and having INR25.42 billion in bank guarantees, it still hasn’t gained access to the airwaves it won in the auction.
It bid a total of INR185 billion for 1.8GHz spectrum in 15 telecom circles, and for 900MHz spectrum in three circles.
Bharti said a further delay in allocating the spectrum could impact subscribers in Delhi and Kolkata, where licences for existing spectrum expire in November. It has therefore asked for more time to use these airwaves in the event of the new spectrum not being allotted in time.
In order to refarm 900MHz spectrum, Airtel said it needs to begin the process of transforming to a 1.8GHz network six to 12 months in advance. The delay in the allocation of the 1.8GHz spectrum is putting pressure on these plans in Delhi and Kolkata.
It requested the Department of Telecommunications to provide a letter of intent and permit the company to import equipment in order to make a star on the network reconfiguration.
In addition, the operator asked that the airwaves in the 900MHz band are allocated in the Mumbai area, so it can deploy the network as quickly as possible.