India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is reportedly sitting on more than 100 applications for 2G spectrum, the Hindu Business Line reports. With the regulator having held up the allocation of new frequencies over the last two years, it is understood that the highest number of applications in any one circle is for Delhi, where there are 17 outstanding requests, while Bihar places second with a total of nine requests. India’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, Bharti Airtel, is effectively at the front of the queue for new spectrum, with the report claiming that it had been the first to request new frequencies in seven of the country’s telecoms circles, with Vodafone heading the line in five circles.
India’s armed forces are expected to release around 10MHz of spectrum in most circles within the next few months, which could allow for up to four or five operators per circle receiving their requested frequencies, with most cellcos having asked for between 1MHz and 2.2MHz; Delhi, however, is likely to only see two operators gain more spectrum, as both of the operators at the front of the queue in those circles are seeking 4.4MHz apiece.
Such allocation, though, will depend on whether the government alters the policy governing allocation of spectrum; at present the DoT offers additional spectrum on a first-come first-served basis. The Ministry of Finance though has said it wants this to change, with it favouring auctions for new frequencies, and until the ongoing debate over the matter is concluded it appears unlikely that any player will gain access to new 2G spectrum.