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Jio has been using bankrupt Reliance Communication Ltd’s spectrum in the 800 MHz band under a sharing agreement to expand its 4G coverage across 21 circles in the country. Mint
Jio has been using bankrupt Reliance Communication Ltd’s spectrum in the 800 MHz band under a sharing agreement to expand its 4G coverage across 21 circles in the country. Mint

Jio requests DoT to conduct spectrum auction at earliest

A delay in auction will lead to huge losses for govt, says Reliance Jio Infocomm

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd has urged the government to initiate the process for auctioning airwaves at the earliest to support its nation-building policies and to help meet the rising demand for data services. In a letter dated 28 September, the Mukesh Ambani-led telecom major also took a dig at rivals Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd (Vi) for sitting on spectrum amassed through mergers and acquisitions, despite losing customers every month.

Jio told the department of telecommunications (DoT) that additional spectrum was required to improve the quality of 4G data services. It also said that the delay in spectrum auction will hurt investor confidence and lead to huge losses in government revenues.

Mint has seen a copy of the letter addressed to DoT secretary Anshu Prakash, and marked to communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and principal secretary to the prime minister, P.K. Mishra.

“Some of the operators are merely interested in perpetuating their 2G technologies and monetize the old equipment as much as possible. We submit that the nation building polices should not be kept hostage to vested interests of such a few," Jio said.

Vi lost 4.8 million users in June, shedding customers for the eighth consecutive month, while Airtel lost 1.1 million subscribers. Both telcos had lost 4.7 million users, each, in May.

While Jio wants the auction to be held as soon as possible, Airtel and Vi are of the view that the reserve price for spectrum is too high. DoT is seeking to sell 8,300 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum for a reserve price of 5.23 trillion.

Jio wants spectrum auction in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2500 MHz bands. It did not seek an auction for the 3,300-3,600 MHz band, meant for 5G services. Jio is the only profit-making telecom player in the Indian market and looks to repurchase a major chunk of the spectrum in the crucial 800 MHz band, the most efficient for 4G services, which will expire in 2021. Its parent, Jio Platforms Ltd has raised 1.5 trillion, part of which will be used to fund its spectrum requirements.

Jio has been using bankrupt Reliance Communication Ltd’s spectrum in the 800 MHz band under a sharing agreement to expand its 4G coverage across 21 circles in the country. Of the 21, the licence for 18 circles will expire in July-August 2021.

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