Telenor India says it now is talking with other mobile operators about sharing spectrum.
“We are in initial stage discussions with all operators on spectrum trading,” said Telenor India CEO Vivek Sood.
As always is the case, such business moves are a reflection of contestant strengths and weaknesses. As a smaller provider in the Indian market, Telenor India has less need for spectrum, compared to many of its larger competitors, simply because its customer base is smaller. Fewer customers means less contention for any available amount of bandwidth.
But data services are the future, so Telenor India has to acquire additional spectrum, one way or the other.
“We know we have to move to the next stage of services, for which we need spectrum. However, there is still demand on 2G,” Chief Executive Officer Vivek Sood said.
Telenor operates in six circles and claims to be the fourth largest provider, where it operates, in terms of revenue.
Telenor has 47.55 million customers at present, much lower than market leader Bharti Airtel, which has over 230 million customers in the country.
As often is the case, Telenor’s public statements contain a mix of commercial motivations. On one hand, Telenor does not want to position itself as without options, as that weakens its bargaining power with potential partners.
So Sood argues there is little urgency in moving towards 3G or 4G services.
On the other hand, Telenor India obviously will have to do something about its spectrum position, as higher-speed networks become more common in India.