Indian mobe networks don’t want 700MHz – because they're too poor

Still counting the pennies

While most telcos are baying for more radio spectrum to stuff with mobile internet broadband, the Indian operators are asking their government to hold off.

They want the hold not just on the high-frequency 2.6GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum that will be useful for cities, but for the extra-valuable 700MHz spectrum that would give the huge nation much better cellphone coverage.

The Economic Times reports that the Indian telcos have so much debt that they want to draw breath before splurging more on 4G spectrum, and have asked for a two-year stay. The Indian government had planned to auction the spectrum this year or next – unlike the UK, where Freeview is at 700MHz, there is nothing in that space in India.

The request to delay the auction has changed the view of the Indian Department of Telecommunications, which will now wait until the operators have the wherewithal to buy what is likely to be very expensive spectrum. The delay will allow the supply of hardware to grow for what is currently an immature market. The operators argue that there is so little 700MHz 4G kit that it's pretty expensive. Waiting will reduce the cost of roll-out.

The Indian hardware market may, however, have a different view. The telco industry, and particularly handset manufacture, is growing rapidly. The early launch of 700MHz would help establish those vendors in a leading position. ®

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