Thomas K Thomas

Roll-out obligation to change for 2G spectrum winners

Thomas K Thomas New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on June 19, 2012

Operators required to reach network to block level instead of districts

The Department of Telecom may change the roll-out norms for operators which win spectrum in the forthcoming 2G auctions.

According to the proposal being finalised, operators may be asked to cover 20 per cent of block headquarters in their circles within the first two years and another 10 per cent in the third year. Coverage beyond that will be left to the operators depending on the viability of offering services.

Under the current licence conditions, mobile operators are required to cover at least 10 per cent of the district headquarters in the first year and 50 per cent of the districts in three years.

New norms

According to an internal DoT note, the change is being done to bring mobile coverage closer to rural areas. The new roll-out norms also envisages obligation in metro areas only for new players. New operators will be required to cover at least 90 per cent of the service area in one year. There will not be any roll-out obligation on incumbent players which win spectrum in metro regions because they have already completed roll-out obligation under the existing norms.

The revised roll-out norms will be presented to the Empowered Group of Ministers scheduled to meet on June 21. The eGoM, in its last meeting, had instructed DoT to work out a formula for its consideration. The DoT had considered three options including maintaining status quo.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had earlier suggested to base the roll-out norms on habitation instead of geographical coverage. However, the DoT shot this down on grounds that the basis of calculating roll-out obligation cannot be changed especially since most operators have already fulfilled the conditions under the existing rules.

Tough time ahead

If the revised rules are accepted then it could make it tougher for new players as they will now have to take their network deeper up to block level compared to the existing norm of reaching the district headquarters.

>tkt@thehindu.co.in

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Published on June 19, 2012
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