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General News Tata Teleservices may shut CDMA operations in 850 MHZ Band
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MUMBAI: Tata Teleservices is gradually shutting its CDMA operations running on the 850 Mhz band and writing off its equipment value, said three people familiar with the company's plans. The company's airwaves across all 22 circles in the band can't be used for 4G as they weren't bought in auctions. The loss-making Tata Group telco, which has been looking for a buyer for long, may look to buy some 850 Mhz band spectrum in the three circles of Andhra Pradesh, Mumbai and Maharashtra - where its permits are up for renewal in the upcoming sale - plus some in the 1800 Mhz band, sources said. Both bands can be used for 4G services.

Prices of 1800 Mhz band airwaves is far cheaper than those in the 850 Mhz band. Yet, the Tata group has taken a call that it doesn't want to stay invested in the business for the long term. "It is unlikely to be too aggressive in the market," said one of the persons in the know.

The upcoming auctions are scheduled for late August or early September. The company is likely to have a coffer of around Rs 7,000 crore for the upcoming spectrum auction, say industry experts. The Tata group approved investment of Rs 3,000 crore in Tata Teleservices at a board meeting held on June 25.

The mobile phone operator, which has been struggling to match up to larger rivals such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India and faces a big threat from newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm, said it's too premature to talk about shutting off any specific service at this juncture. "Telecom licenses for several circles such as Mumbai, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra are due for renewal in September 2017. Tata Teleservices Ltd and Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd will evaluate their options on technologies based on various factors including the outcome of the spectrum auction to be held shortly," it said in a statement.

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