Vodafone India requested the country’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to immediately allocate the airwaves it secured in an auction held in February, according to The Economic Times.
If this is not possible, the company said its services in the Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai circles will be impacted. Showing the urgency of the issue, Vodafone sent a letter to the DoT seeking an answer within a day.
The company said the delay in the earmarking of airwaves “will seriously affect Vodafone India’s services, which the company cannot afford, and it requires necessary corrective steps and actions from DoT”.
In addition to the request for the spectrum, the company also asked for an extension on its existing licences to use spectrum in the 900MHz band for six months after new spectrum in the 1.8GHz band is allocated.
Existing 900MHz airwaves are to be replaced by spectrum in a slightly different part of the spectrum band, with the amount of 900MHz spectrum in use actually falling from 8MHz to 5MHz in some markets, according to Vodafone.
In the letter, the operator said that as the frequency spots on 900MHz and 1.8GHz bands are changing, it is vital that the 1.8GHz spectrum won in the spectrum auction is deployed first to enable the release of existing 900MHz spectrum.
The company said the migration of its network from existing 900MHz to 1.8GHz spectrum in areas where it was unable to renew existing spectrum will take six months.
Vodafone is the second largest operator in India with 173.8 million connections at the end of the third quarter, according to GSMA Intelligence figures.
It spent around $3 billion to secure airwaves in February, including 900MHz spectrum covering Delhi, Kolkata and Delhi. Only in Mumbai did it increase its total spectrum holding.
In September, India’s number one operator Bharti Airtel reportedly demanded compensation from the country’s government to cover the interest on money it borrowed to secure spectrum in February’s auction to which it has not yet received access.
Bharti Airtel urged the government to speed up the process to allot the airwaves and that a further delay could impact subscribers in Delhi and Kolkata, where licences for existing spectrum expire in November. Like Vodafone, it also asked for more time to use these airwaves in the event of the new spectrum not being allotted in time.
Despite its concern around spectrum, Vodafone India clearly has faith in the market with CEO Marten Pieters recently saying the company will invest $1 billion to upgrade its network and retail outlets in the country.