Vodafone cheesed off at India's TRAI spectrum suggestions

It’s getting even trickier for telcos in the never-ending Indian spectrum debate.

UK-based telecoms giant Vodafone has lashed out at the Telecom Regulation Authority of India’s (TRAI) latest report on spectrum pricing. The British telecom player has asked the Indian government to reject TRAI’s recommendations of increasing the controversial 2G spectrum prices by six times, and a one-time charge for operators holding excess spectrum over 6.2 Mhz.

If the Indian government accepts the regulator’s recommendations, a pan-india licence would come at Rs 10,972.45 crore ($2.4 billion), a six-fold jump from Rs 1,658 crore ($363 million).

In its recommendations to the Department of Telecoms, TRAI has also said that every Mhz of additional spectrum (on an all-India basis) beyond the contracted limit of 6.2 Mhz would cost a massive Rs 4,571.87 crore ($1 billion).

The revised price stands at Rs.1769.75 crore ($380 million) for up to 6.2 MHz and Rs. 4571.87 crore (beyond 6.2 MHz). TRAI recommends the implementation of the revised prices retrospectively from the 1st of April 2010.

These recommendations, if taken by the Indian government, will affect top dogs like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular and the state-owned BSNL, which will have to pay for the amount of spectrum they are holding beyond 6.2 MHz.

Vodafone has claimed that the TRAI recommendations are flawed – as per a study conducted by Plum and commissioned by Vodafone.

The new operators, who are still to get spectrum, are likely to pay for whatever radio waves they would be allotted by the Department of Telecommunications.

Vodafone is a majority joint venture partner of India’s third largest mobile operator Vodafone-Essar and offers services throughout the country.