New Delhi, Oct 18 (IANS) The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) will take a decision on the refarming of spectrum about a week before the auction, scheduled to begin Nov 12, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal said.
The ministers who met Thursday could not take the decision. "A lot of time was taken by other issues and there wasn't enough time to take a decision immediately on that," Sibal told reporters after the meeting.
"We intend to take a decision on the refarming issue prior to start of auction. Hopefully a week before the start of the auction," he added.
The telecom commission Wednesday recommended that the operators give up all their spectrum in the 900 MHz band at the time of their licence renewal starting November 2014.
The move was highly criticised by the industry. According to GSM operators lobby Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the decision was against the consumer, industry and one that is discriminatory for the GSM industry.
A study on the spectrum refarming conducted by consultancy firm Analysys Mason has pointed out that operators with 900MHz band will need to replace 286,590 base stations and install an additional 171,954 base stations to provide equivalent coverage on 1800MHz.
The industry is apprehensive about the decision saying this will cost them over Rs.1,00,000 crore in replacement of base stations and deployment of additional sites and other related charges.
"Such a replacement of base stations and deployment of additional sites will result in an incremental capex of Rs.54,739 crore, and incremental annual opex of Rs.11,762 crore," COAI said in a statement Wednesday.
"In addition, operators will also have to write-off their existing 900MHz assets at an estimated cost of Rs.22,310 crore. At an industry level, an additional capex of about Rs.26,653 crore will be required to deploy new towers to support the incremental base stations," it added.