New Delhi, Jan. 20: The sale of spectrum in the 800 megahertz (MHz) band may not attract bidders other than pure CDMA operator Sistema Shyam because of the limited availability of airwaves.
The auction is not open to GSM players such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India, who were interested in buying spectrum in the 800MHz band to offer data services.
“The auction (of 800MHz CDMA spectrum) offers 3.75MHz in 19 circles and 2.5MHz in two circles (Punjab and Andhra Pradesh) and in the Rajasthan circle, there is no spectrum being auctioned. In most of the circles, the 3.75MHz spectrum is not continuous,” officials in the department of telecom said.
Airwaves in the 800MHz band will be sold in pairs of 1.25MHz (for uplink and downlink) and if the allocation is not continuous, it will affect mobile services.
Officials said the government would not be left with additional CDMA spectrum after the auction in March, scuppering the chance of service providers to scale up operations.
According to analysts, service providers need a minimum of 5MHz of continuous spectrum to offer high-speed data services such as 3G and 4G. Therefore, the auction does not benefit any new entrant in the CDMA space.
In the CDMA auction held in November, there were no takers for these radio waves.
While Sistema Shyam is a pure CDMA player, Reliance Communications (R-Com) and Tata Teleservices offer both CDMA and GSM services.
Tata Teleservices, which had applied to bid in Assam, Northeast and Jammu & Kashmir in November, had withdrawn its application citing a high reserve price for CDMA spectrum.
R-Com has not shown any interest in buying additional radio waves.
Russia’s Sistema had last month announced its intention to continue providing services beyond its permit cancellation date. Last week, the Supreme Court allowed companies, including Sistema whose licences were cancelled in February last year, to continue operations till February 4.
The statement has prompted analysts to deduce that Sistema may bid in the CDMA auction.