COAI pushes for reshuffle of BSNL spectrum; DoT working on MTNL/BSNL tie-up

18 Aug 2014

Lobby group the Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) is pushing for the regulator to reshuffle the 900MHz spectrum holdings of state-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) to allow for the sale of a greater number of contiguous spectrum blocks in the upcoming sale. The Economic Times writes that COAI is asking the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to consider re-allocating BSNL’s fragmented frequencies in the 900MHz range, increasing the amount of contiguous spectrum available in some circles to 15MHz, or three blocks of 5MHz. A spokesperson for the lobby group was quoted as saying: ‘We are asking the government to align operators so as contiguous spectrum could be made available for auction, which is primarily required to provide high-speed data services, and it is not mandatory to have contiguous spectrum for voice services.’

In related news, the paper quotes an unnamed ministry official as saying that the DoT is working on the merger of BSNL and its sister company Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL), although the process may take up to two more years. The planned merger is part of the government’s revival plan for the two failing providers, which have seen a steady decline in turnover in recent years.

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