India’s Business Standard newspaper writes that the Department of Telecom (DoT) is set to release GSM spectrum to both new and existing mobile operators in some southern circles next week. Frequencies for all other circles will be awarded once the policy for 3G spectrum has been finalised. In the first phase spectrum will be given for the Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Orissa and Tamil Nadu (including Chennai) circles. According to the DoT’s wireless planning and coordination wing, some 45MHz in the 1800MHz band is available for operations in the four circles. In the second phase, scheduled for completion by the end of April, spectrum will be allotted in two to three more circles, including Maharashtra and Bihar.
Bharti Airtel, India’s largest wireless network operator, is expected to get additional spectrum in the southern circles in the first round. ‘Bharti has been adding more than 2.5 million subscribers on a monthly basis, which makes it eligible for additional spectrum in certain circles,’ officials are quoted as saying. In January, Bharti was awarded spectrum in five circles — Bengal, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh (west), Assam and Haryana. The company is still waiting for extra spectrum for its operations in Rajasthan, Karnataka and Bihar. Among the new players which will get spectrum are Videocon-backed Datacom, Sistema-backed CDMA operator Shyam Telelink, Unitech, Swan Telecom, Spice Communications (already offers GSM services in two circles) and S Tel.