DoT panel undecided on spectrum allocation to mobile operators

Source: Business Standard, Feb 12, 2019

New Delhi: The Department of Telecom (DoT) is divided over the allocation of backhaul airwaves to mobile operators, with half of them backing the auction route for selling microwave spectrum and the remaining half sticking to the current practice of allotment on a first-cum-first-served basis.

The latter is international practice. According to at least two persons privy to the development, an internal panel of the DoT that is working on a policy of allotting backbone airwaves has not been able to decide on the matter due to differing views of the members.

Microwave access, or MWA spectrum, is allocated to telecom operators for short distances to provide mobile services.

If the logjam on policy persists, it may have an impact on proposed spectrum auctions because the backhaul or backbone spectrum is an essential component for seamless operation of next-generation cellular services.

Some experts say unless a service provider has robust backhaul spectrum, providing 5G services can become a challenge for the company.

“Nowhere in the world is backhaul spectrum auctioned, and if we adopt that route it would not be in sync with the international best practices,” an official said, adding some officials are suggesting the auction route to avoid any scrutiny in the future.

A sector expert said spectrum was an intangible resource and should be given on administered low prices.

“If the demand for spectrum exceeds the supply, it should be auctioned. Currently, the demand does not exceed the supply,” said Mahesh Uppal, an independent telecom expert.

The Comptroller and Auditor General in its report in January pointed out MWA spectrum was allocated to a telecom operator in 2015 on a first-cum-first-served basis in contravention of the recommendation of a DoT committee, constituted in December 2012.

The DoT panel had proposed spectrum allotment in the microwave band to all the operators through auction.

The Supreme Court in 2012 had struck down the first-come-first-served policy in the 2G spectrum allocation case of 2008-09 and cancelled 122 telecom permits.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in its recommendations in 2014 said the DoT should continue to allot backbone spectrum on a first-come-first-served basis.

FDI in telecom sector jumped five times in three years: Manoj Sinha

Source: Business Standard, Sept 25, 2018

New Delhi: Foreign direct investment (FDI) in the telecom sector has jumped nearly five times in the last three years – from $1.3 billion in 2015-16 to $6.2 billion in 2017-18, Communications Minister Manoj Sinha said today.

Although the Minister did not share specific details, he said FDI would be the key to unleash the full potential of upcoming technologies like M2M, machine learning, artificial intelligence and internet of things.“India lost its chance to get full advantage of the first industrial revolution, but we cannot afford to miss the bus now. India must not only be a pioneer in rolling out these technologies but also in developing them,”Sinha said.

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Vodafone Idea to merge Aditya Birla Telecom

download (3).jpgSource: LiveMint.com, Sept 17, 2018

New Delhi: Telecom operator Vodafone Idea Limited will merge Aditya Birla Telecom Ltd, which holds 11.15% stake in telecom infrastructure firm Indus Towers, with it.

“The Board of Directors of Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL) … has considered and approved a scheme of amalgamation of Aditya Birla Telecom Limited (ABTL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company, with the company,” Vodafone Idea said in a regulatory filing.

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Samsung opens world’s largest mobile experience centre in Bengaluru

download (1)Source: Business Standard, Sept 12, 2018

Bengaluru: After launching the world’s largest mobile phone-manufacturing factory in Noida in July, Samsung has now opened its biggest experience centre in Bengaluru.

Opera House, the 33,000 sq ft iconic building in the city’s central business district, has been given a facelift to showcase Samsung’s mobile devices and other consumer electronic products. It has a service centre for phones and is equipped with high-speed public Wi-Fi.

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Xiaomi, Huawei plan big retail push in India

Source: ETRetail.com, Aug 27, 2018

KOLKATA: Two of the biggest Chinese smartphone brands — Xiaomi and Huawei — are poised to stir up the Indian retail market by establishing exclusive outlets in new formats that will be a global first for them.Xiaomi, for instance, is setting up thousands of Mi Stores in rural locations. Its spokesperson said this will generate more than 5,000 jobs in such areas.

The move could further stifle Indian smartphone brands that are surviving on sales in such markets and intensify competition with Samsung since this is the first time any brand is setting up exclusive stores in rural India at such a scale, experts said.

Huawei, the world’s second largest smartphone maker after Samsung as per US-based researcher IDC, will set up 100 large franchise-owned exclusive stores in Indian cities for its Honor handsets, which are sold online globally, executives said. Huawei said its Honor spokesperson was not available for comment.

Xiaomi, the makers of Redmi and Mi smartphones and televisions, will open the franchisee-owned Mi Stores in taluk-level areas. Currently, Reliance Retail is a large player in rural markets through small Jio stores that also sell mobile phones and electronics. A Xiaomi spokesperson said the company will have 500 Mi Stores by the end of the year and “a few thousand by next year, ensuring we keep growing at the same pace.”

Domestic manufacturing of mobile handset saved India Rs 3 trillion: Study

Source: Business Standard, Aug 22, 2018

New Delhi: Driven by the government’s “Make in India” initiative, the mobile handset manufacturing eco-system in India has helped the country save a whopping Rs 3 trillion by replacing imports of completely-built units (CBU) with locally manufactured and assembled handsets during the past four years, said a new report on Wednesday.

In 2017-18, over 225 million handsets were assembled/ manufactured in India which was approximately 80 per cent of the total market requirements, according to the India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) report.

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DoT amends licences of telcos to incorporate net neutrality rules

Source: Business Standard, Aug 07, 2018

New Delhi: The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has amended the licences of telecom operators and internet service providers to incorporate net neutrality rules, which means that no service provider can now restrict or discriminate in the treatment of content by blocking, slowing down or granting preferential speeds in providing internet access.

The Telecom Commission, which is the highest decision-making body of DoT, had cleared the rules last month.

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Telecom industry may no longer be the goose that lays the golden egg

Source: LiveMint.com, Aug 07, 2018

For the government, the telecom industry is best viewed as the fabled goose that lays golden eggs. And telecom companies have rarely disappointed. They have outbid each other to buy spectrum at ridiculous prices at regular intervals. Some analysts even joke that large telecom companies have perfected the art of buying the unaffordable.

But on a handful of occasions, telcos have refused to cooperate and some spectrum auctions have been failures. If the government accepts the regulator’s recommendations for the next spectrum auction, another failure seems to be on the cards.

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Trai recommends sale of airwaves of over Rs 5 trn for 5G auction

download (7).jpgSource: Business Standard, Aug 02, 2018

New Delhi: Signalling a quantum leap in mobile technology, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Wednesday gave its recommendations for the auction of eight bands, including the fifth generation (5G) ultra high speed telephony. 5G auction, a first for India, is expected to be a catalyst for internet of things (IoT) innovations that would speed up machine learning and artificial intelligence. Airwaves worth around Rs 5.06 trillion will be on offer for telecom operators in the next round of auction.

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$23 bn merger of Vodafone, Idea to soon get Centre’s nod, both companies pay Rs 7268 cr towards spectrum charges

Source: Financial Express, Jul 24, 2018

New Delhi: The $23-billion merger of Idea Cellular and Vodafone India will soon get the final approval of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) as both the companies have paid Rs 7,268-crore dues towards spectrum charges. “Vodafone and Idea have paid the dues under their heads, which is being processed now at the DoT,” an official source said.

Vodafone’s due of Rs 3,926 crore pertains to the entry fee and the auction determined price of the start-up spectrum of 4.4 Mhz, which needs to be paid in the event any company goes for an M&A. Idea’s Rs 3,322-crore due is related to the one-time spectrum charge (OTSC) for spectrum held beyond 4.4 Mhz.

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