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AirTel claims disputed by Mumbai cell operators

27-July-2002
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AirTel claims disputed by Mumbai cell operators

Stung by Airtel’s entry, Mumbai cellular operators are disputing claims made by the fourth operator that it has a superior network compared to others in the city.

The bone of contention is an advertisement released by Airtel in leading newspapers which said, “Over 300 cell sites across the city and a new 1800 Mhz frequency assure you instant connectivity and superior voice clarity.”

According to industry source, the operators do not agree with Airtel’s widely publicised advetorial claiming that the 1800-mhz frequency bandwidth is superior. In fact, they had no choice on the allocation of spectrum in that bandwidth. Technologically there is no difference between 900 Mhz and 1800Mhz. On the contrary the cost of setting up a network on a 1800mhz is much more than setting up a network in the 900 MHZ.

Sources in Hutchison point out that for every cell site on the 900 Mhz-bandwidth, an operator on the 1800 Mhz-bandwidth would require 1.5 cell sites. Therefore in Mumbai, Airtel would require to set up 600 cell sites (they have 300 cell sites now) to give the same area of coverage that existing operators are present in.

According to Bharti sources, the competition has misread the communication. What it intended to say was that since its network is new and because they do not have subscribers, their network will give customers better services as compared to the clogged networks of the existing operators. There is no attempt to say that 1800 Mhz is better than the 900Mhz.

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