Reliance Communications Ltd said it will take a final call on whether or not to convert its CDMA spectrum into 4G spectrum after the Department of Telecom informs it of the final amount required to be paid for the same.
“DoT has issued the intimation letter for 16 circles and is yet to decide for the remaining 4 circles. Once decided in totality, Company will have option whether to pay the said amount and liberalise or not. Thus this process is still ongoing and the matter has not yet achieved finality,” the Anil Ambani firm said.
RCom is reported to have agreed to trade spectrum with Reliance Jio, controlled by Anil’s brother Mukesh, as well as to enter sharing deals.
RCom is the biggest holder of lucrative 800 MHz spectrum in India, something that has been coveted by 4G players like Jio. RCom, which gets a large chunk of its revenue from data, also has its own plans of launching its 4G network using the spectrum as well as those of MTS, which it is in the process of merging with.
There have been media reports that the company has been asked to pay Rs 5,600 cr if it wants to enter into sharing and trading. According to Indian rules, a company cannot enter into such deals as long as it holds administratively assigned (or free) spectrum in that particular band.
RCom has around 5 MHz of spectrum in this band in nearly all the telecom zones of the country.
In September, Anil Ambani had said: “This spectrum is ideally suited for the launch of the 1st truly world class 4G / LTE services in India, and has the ability to provide a clear competitive edge in terms of quality, coverage and pricing, over other operators launching similar services in other spectrum bands.”
According to media reports, RCom and Jio plan to jointly create a 4G network on the 800 MHz band in the seven circles where both companies have spectrum in this band.
In other places, they will engage in trading so that at least one of them can launch the service.
“We had started applying for liberalization of our spectrum in various circles starting from July 2015 to enable us to use this spectrum for 4G services as well as allow us for sharing and trading as and when the guidelines for the same were available,” RCom said today.
“Pursuant to the guidelines on liberalization issued on 5th Nov 2015, the Company, in its ordinary course of business, had again put in the request to DoT for liberalisation for its holding in 800 MHz of Spectrum in 20 Circles alongwith the processing fee of Rs 50,000/- per service area.”