labels: telecom, mtnl
MTNL welcomes proposed spectrum policy for cellular providers; debunks charges of favouritismnews
02 November 2007

MTNL today welcomed the new spectrum allocation policy for GSM operators, while debunking the charges of favouritism levelled by private operators during the last few days.

MTNL says that on the contrary, it is the private operators who enjoyed the government''d patronage at the cost of the public sector telecom service providers. MTNL says that besides the three years of exclusivity period that the private GSM operators enjoyed initially, the entry of MTNL in cellular services was delayed by another almost two years because of the various court cases filed by private cellular service providers.

MTNL says that the litigation was intended to either abort or delay the launch of mobile services by public sector operators, even though globally the incumbent operators were given priority for the license.

As a result of the litigation, MTNL could only manage to launch its cellular service around six years after the entry of the private sector in the cellular segment. "This resulted in loss of vast business opportunity to MTNL in terms of subscriber base and revenue." The operator has pointed out being a government-owned company, the services of MTNL are important from the national security point of view as MTNL caters to defence communications.

MTNL also says that It is a matter of record that its entry in cellular services helped bring down the GSM tariffs from Rs 6 per minute to less than Rs 2 per minute.

Regarding special treatment to MTNL on allocation of spectrum, it clarified that because of it being a late entrant, MTNL was always at a disadvantage vis-à-vis its competitors. Even though the 900 MHz band is considered the primary band for for coverage and quality, MTNL was initially allotted 31 RF channels (6.2 MHz) in 900 MHz band.

"However, subsequently instead of allotment of its additional requirement in the same 900 MHz band as was done in the case of other operators, MTNL got additional spectrum in 1800 MHz band.

It pointed out that other private operators like Airtel and Hutch (now Vodafone) were allotted 40 RF channels (8MHz) in 900 MHz band itself. The public sector telco also says that it faced more strict criteria for spectrum allotment as per revised norms, unlike private operators.

"This has put great constraint on frequency planning and network quality and has also resulted in increasing the capex as well as opex, thus adversely affecting the profitability to MTNL".

It addition pointed out that far from being favoured in spectrum allocation, despite its repeated requests to DoT for being allotting an additional 6 carriers in 900MHz to help it ease congestion and improve network quality, its requests had "yet to receive a favourable decision."

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MTNL welcomes proposed spectrum policy for cellular providers; debunks charges of favouritism