The battle lines for the next big corporate war in the telecom sector have been drawn. And the warring Ambani brothers have come together to take on incumbent GSM operators on the issue of refarming 900 Mhz band spectrum.
Both Reliance Industries and Reliance Communications have supported the move to refarm spectrum in this frequency band. Old GSM operators including Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular have opposed it. The views of the operators have emerged from the submissions made by them to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.
The development indicates at a new alignment between the estranged Ambani brothers, going back to the times when all of Reliance entities were under a single management.
The 900 Mhz band is considered to be a cost effective frequency band as operators can get better coverage with lesser number of base stations. It is also ideal for fourth generation technology based broadband services.
Currently, this band is being used by old licence holders including Airtel and Vodafone for offering GSM-based voice service. TRAI has suggested taking away this band from the existing operators and putting up for auction so that everyone gets a chance to bid for it.
Reliance Industries, through its broadband venture Infotel Broadband Services, has told TRAI that the incumbent operators should not be allowed to retain this spectrum as it will not only disturb the level playing field but also cause revenue loss to the Government. Reliance Communication said that the incumbent players can be given spectrum in the 1800 Mhz band after vacating the 900 Mhz band.