India needs more spectrum for better connectivity: TRAI chief

By Sarkaritel March 31, 2015 11:30

India needs more spectrum for better connectivity: TRAI chief

Bengaluru, March 31  India has to increase the quantum of spectrum (airwaves) for better mobile connectivity and speedy downloads, its telecom regulatory panel chief said on Monday.

“Unless we have more spectrum, we cannot increase the speed for faster connectivity and quicker downloads,” Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman Rahul Khullar at a consumer outreach programme here.

Bemoaning scarcity of spectrum when mobile communication had became the country’s lifeline, with a whopping 900 million users, he said India had 40 percent less airwaves than a European country, which could be similar to Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh in size.

“Spectrum scarcity is our biggest problem as it is less than half of the capacity available in China. In the recent auction, airwaves that were available over two decades ago (1994) were sold as there was no additional spectrum,” he said.

In the latest spectrum e-auctions conducted over three weeks this month, the federal government had raked in $18 billion from telecom operators, as the bids were amongst highest bids by global standards.

Since 2010, when the new round of auctions started and up to 2014, the government had put-up spectrum in the 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz and 2,300 MHz bands for bidding. It managed to sell 1,635.47 MHz of spectrum across these bands and raise about $30 billion.

In the latest tranch of auction that concluded on March 24 it put up 103.75 MHz in 800 MHz band, 177.8 MHz in 900 MHz band, 99.2 MHz in 1,800 MHz band and 85 MHz in 2,100 MHz band.

When spectrum was sold in 2010 for introducing 3G services, barring the state-run BSNL, private cellular operators did not buy them (airwaves) for using across the country but in some circles.

“If more spectrum is not freed for greater use, quality of service will suffer as mobile connectivity is being used more for data, videos and other applications than voice in the past,” said Khullar.

Since 2010, users have been moving from 2G and 2.5G to 3G, which is faster and has provision to use the spectrum for internet and a host of non-voice applications on smart phones and tablets.

“Unlike in other countries, we have to provide mobile connectivity in urban and rural areas, where problems are different in terms of infrastructure, last mile connectivity and quality of service due to congestion and capacity constraints,” Khullar added.

By Sarkaritel March 31, 2015 11:30

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