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India relaxes spectrum rules in favour of investment

India has approved relief measures for the telecoms sector, revising limits on spectrum holdings and allowing operators longer to pay for airwaves won at auction, with a view to freeing up funds for investment, improving ease of doing business and allowing for consolidation in the sector, reports TeleGeography. “The government approved recommendations from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the Telecom Commission to increase the overall spectrum cap from 25% of all licensed frequencies in a ‘circle’ [geographical area] to 35% and remove the 50% cap for holdings with a particular band per circle. Instead, the latter will be replaced by a 50% cap on combined sub-1GHz (700 MHz, 800 MHz and 900 MHz) spectrum holdings, with no upper limit set on spectrum in the higher bands.” However, the government noted that the revised limits may be revisited following the ITU’s World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) in 2019. The reforms will primarily affect mergers and acquisitions, simplifying the ongoing consolidation drive in the sector, but the government also hopes that the move will encourage providers to participate in an upcoming spectrum sale. Operators have also been given a one-time opportunity to spread the cost of spectrum won at auction over 16 years rather than the current 10. “With the restructuring of the deferred payment liability, the cash flow for the telecom service providers will increase in the immediate timeframe providing them some relief,” the government explained in a press release. Read more

  • Thursday, 22 March 2018

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