Tata Tele Offers To Surrender Spectrum Allocated Without Auction
A telecom tower (Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg)

Tata Tele Offers To Surrender Spectrum Allocated Without Auction

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Tata Teleservices Ltd. has offered to surrender spectrum allocated to it without auction in around 15 circles before its merger with Bharti Airtel Ltd. is approved by the Department of Telecom, an official said.

Spectrum in the 800 megahertz band can be used for 4G services but the airwaves held by Tata Teleservices across 15-16 circles can be used for 2G services as well and these frequencies cannot be transferred to Airtel, according to rules.

In a meeting with the Department of Telecom, Airtel and Tata Teleservices offered to surrender 2.5 megahertz of spectrum assigned to Tata Tele administratively in the 800 Mhz band in all circles, an official told PTI.

Tata Teleservices is required to pay the present market rate to make the airwaves allocated without auction usable for 4G services or for transferring them to Airtel.

However, according to sources, given their debt condition, both Tata Teleservices and Airtel are not willing to pay the market rate for the spectrum.

Tata Teleservices’ total holding in the 800 Mhz band could not be ascertained.

The company has a total of 178 Mhz spectrum across 800 Mhz, 1,800 Mhz and 2,100 Mhz bands across 19 circles, out which only 71.3 Mhz of spectrum can be transferred to Airtel without paying market rate, which is calculated based on the last auction price.

Tata Teleservices and Bharti Airtel announced their merger in October 2017. The deal is on a no-debt, no-cash basis, implying Airtel is not taking over any of the about Rs 40,000 crore debt of Tata Teleservices and is neither paying any cash.

The National Company Law Tribunal has approved the merger of Tata Teleservices with Bharti Airtel. The Department of Telecom has to give its final approval to the merger.

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