4G players seek more time to meet rollout target

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 06, 2014 Published on October 06, 2014


Blame lack of tech, slow government processes for delay

Four years after receiving 4G spectrum, telecom operators have approached the Department of Telecom seeking another five years to complete their rollout obligation.

The operators, including Airtel, Reliance Jio and Aircel, have made a joint plea to extend the deadline, through industry body Cellular Operators Association of India.

Spectrum to offer broadband services on mobile devices was allocated in 2010 with specific rollout targets. The five-year period in which the operators were supposed to achieve the rollout expires in 2015. But until now, barring Airtel, none of the other players which bought spectrum has been able to even start services. Reliance Jio is in the process of putting in place its network and content and is expected to launch services early next year.

Earlier, a top Reliance executive had told BusinessLine that the company will be able to meet the rollout target. Airtel has launched the service in four cities but managed to get only a few lakh subscribers.

Aircel has also launched in a handful of cities, while Tikona and Augere are yet to announce plans.

The operators face huge penalties if they fail to meet the rollout target. Going by the current status, most operators are bound to miss their rollout obligations.

Operators’ stance

The operators have blamed the lack of a global technology ecosystem, slow government processes and inadequate policy support for the delay in meeting the rollout target.

“As the DoT is well aware, the inability of the operators to even launch the services on the allocated broadband spectrum is primarily on account of the delay in development of the requisite device and network ecosystem, a prime factor, which is predominantly out of the control of the telecom service providers,” the COAI note said, urging the DoT to set a more realistic deadline for the roll-out target.

Published on October 06, 2014
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