Broadband victors get voice option

New Delhi, Feb 18: Telecom companies that paid big bucks to acquire broadband wireless spectrum in June 2010 and then failed to launch over-hyped 4G data services have now been granted the option of offering voice calls if they are prepared to fork out another Rs 1,658 crore.

The Telecom Commission held out the bait to the telecom companies that have struggled to launch high-speed broadband wireless services in the 33 months since the big-ticket auction. But it wasn't immediately clear how many would grab the offer.

Telecom secretary R. Chandrashekhar, who is also the commission's chairman, told reporters that the framework for the new licences would be ready by the end of March.

The commission is the highest decision-making body on policy issues within the department of telecom (DoT).

Only six companies had successfully bid for BWA spectrum. Of them, only one ' Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (earlier Infotel Broadband Services Pvt Ltd) ' won the licences in all 22 circles for which it paid Rs 12,847.77 crore.

Some believe that the Mukesh Ambani-owned venture may leap at the offer since it hasn't been able to get its 4G service off the ground. If they do so, it could re-ignite sibling rivalry since Anil Ambani's Reliance Communications is a big 2G telecom player offering both voice and data services. Voice services contribute more than 85 per cent to the domestic telecom operators' revenue.

Others, however, reckon that Reliance Industries may not be interested since data and high-speed Internet services offer higher margins.

There is a good reason why: the 2G spectrum auction last November yielded just Rs 9,407.64 crore after 14 rounds of bidding ' less than a quarter of the Rs 40,000 crore that the government had been hoping to raise from the 20-year lease-out of scarce radiowaves.

The yield from the 2G auction was less than what Reliance paid for the broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum.

Mobile telephony companies have been bleeding badly because of the intense price wars. Many feel that Reliance Jio Infocomm would not want to go into that space after having stumped up so much for BWA spectrum. It can never hope to offer matching voice call rates without driving a spike through its balance sheet.

The other firms which have broadband licences include Bharti Airtel, Aircel, Qualcomm, Tikona Digital and Augere .

While Bharti Airtel and Aircel have unified access services licence under which they are allowed to provide voice services both on fixed as well as landline, the other companies were given Internet Service Provider (ISP) licence that sets restrictions on providing call services across networks.

Reliance Industries, the country's biggest company by market value, paid Rs 4,800 crore in 2010 to buy a 95 per cent stake in Infotel Broadband, which owned radio waves for broadband Internet services.

The Cellular Operators Association of India, which lobbies on behalf of GSM operators such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular, has opposed the idea of allowing ISP licensees to offer voice services using broadband spectrum.

Fresh auction

The government also plans to hold a third round of auction of unsold airwaves in 18 telecom circles immediately after the March spectrum sale to comply with a court order, added Chandrashekhar.

DoT is also planning to increase the amount of airwaves it has put on block in the Karnataka and Rajasthan zones in the auction due in March, he added.

Last week, the Supreme Court directed the government to auction all the airwaves that were freed up after the apex court ordered in February 2012 the cancellation of 122 licences issued to a bunch of cherry picked telecom companies in January 2008 through a flawed process. Only a slice of the airwaves was offered in the November auction.

Quiz: How well do you know India's economy?

Question 1

Which of these products is India the world's largest producer of?

Poll Choice Options
  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Milk

Latest News

  • Sensex trades flat during pre-noon session

    Mumbai, April 16 (IANS) A benchmark index of Indian equities markets was trading flat at 18.52 points or 0.08 percent down during the pre-noon session Wednesday. Good buying was seen in metal and banking ... …

  • China economic growth slows to 18-month low in Q1
    China economic growth slows to 18-month low in Q1

    China's economy grew at its slowest pace in 18 months at the start of 2014, but did a touch better than expected and showed some improvement in March, suggesting Beijing will not rush to follow up recent steps to support activity. The economy grew 7.4 percent in the January-March quarter from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday. It was China's slowest annual growth since the third quarter of 2012, when the world's second-largest economy also grew 7.4 percent. …

  • CSuisse upgrades Titan on hopes regulatory overhang would dissipate

    Reuters Market Eye - Titan Company shares gain 1.4 percent after Credit Suisse upgrades the stock to "outperform" from "neutral" and raises target to 310 rupees from 250 rupees on expectations gold regulatory frameworks would be dismantled in 6-12 months. India had allowed five domestic private sector banks to import gold, in what industry officials say could be a significant step towards easing of tough curbs on the metal imposed last year. Credit Suisse says the expectations says are based …

  • Indian attitudes don't change: Whitening products continue to sell

    New Delhi, April 16 (IANS) Matrimonial advertisements for "fair girls" or commercials of beauty brands glamourising the light skin show that the obsession for fair skin persists among women in India despite a majority of Indian women being of brown or dark pigment. According to market researchers ACNielsen, in 2010, India's whitening-cream market was worth $432 million (Rs.2,600 crore). The visual media has changed the strategy so much that even fair people also use fairness products," Ravi …

  • Fed should beef up low-rate vows, two officials say
    Fed should beef up low-rate vows, two officials say

    FARGO North Dakota/BANGOR Maine (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Reserve ought not to raise interest rates until the economy is much closer to full strength, two of the Fed's most dovish policymakers said on Tuesday. "If you commit to keeping rates low even as the recovery is proceeding, even as we continue to recover, I think people have a sense, the Fed has the recovery’s back," Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Narayana Kocherlakota said at North Dakota State University. If households …


  • This might well be India’s biggest Ponzi scam

    It was just too good to be true. Ashok Khital, 45, displays every symptom of a man who knows he's been conned. …

  • India's star studded football league

    High and mighty including Sachin, Salman & Sun Group buy ISL teams …

  • Leaderspeak with Rajesh Janey

    Rajesh Janey, President - India & SAARC, EMC shares many firsts in his life. …

  • Seed of Doubt

    Field trials have been allowed again in India. But two decades after their global launch, genetically modified (GM) crops remain controversial. …

  • Power Hungry

    Gujarat has power round-the-clock. Most other states do not. Why this will matter in the general elections. …

  • Etcetera

    The most keenly watched contest of the current general election will be the one for the Varanasi parliamentary seat, where the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi squares off ... …

  • Economy vs Democracy

    As the country gets election fever, cash comes out of mattresses and turns into liquor, gifts, and food. But it is not bad for the health of the economy, reports Sarika Malhotra from the trenches. …


  • Most Actives
    Most Actives
    NamePriceChange% Chg
  • Price % Gainers
    Price % Gainers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
  • Price % Losers
    Price % Losers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    Recent Quotes
    Symbol Price Change % ChgChart 
    Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the "Enter symbol/company" at the bottom of this module.
    You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes.
  • Recent Quotes News

      Sign-in to view quotes in your portfolios.