This is great news for six companies who won the BWA spectrum in 2010. The Telecom Commission has approved the decision to let these players offer Voice services on their airwaves. However, the companies will have to pay additional fee of 1658 crore rupees to be eligible to offer the voice services. [source]
Although the Telecom Commission has approved this decision, it has yet to be signed formerly by the Telecom minister to complete the final approval process.
The biggest benefactor of this is going to be Reliance Jio Infocomm (Formerly Infotel broadband) as they are the only ones who have the Pan-India license. Other 5 players namely Bharti Airtel, Aircel, Qualcomm, Tikona Digital and Augere have won the BWA spectrum for few limited telecom circles.
The BWA spectrum holders were previously allowed to offer only the data services to their customers, but with this new development, their licenses will be converted into a unified license allow them to offer all voice and data services on fixed as well as landline.
With Reliance Jio Infocomm now entering the fiercely competitive telecom market with a voice as well as data services, there is no doubt that the competition will intensify further and will hurt rivals like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and others.
Last year, Airtel acquired 49 percent stake in Qualcomm’s India BWA entities allowing them access to lucrative circles like Mumbai & Delhi along with Haryana and Kerala where it did not own 4G spectrum.
Among all BWA license holders, Reliance Jio Infocomm has spectrum in all 22 circles, followed by Aircel, who have it in 8 circles each. Bharti Airtel won BWA spectrum in 4 circles, but with Qualcomm’s acquisition, they will have access to 8 circles in all. Tikona has spectrum in 5 circles and Augere in one.
At Rs. 1658 crore as fees, it may not be feasible for all the BWA spectrum holders to start offering voice services, but Reliance for sure will not mind paying the fees for a pan-India unified license.
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