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Telecom Commission sends back spectrum pricing proposal to Trai

Trai has asked DoT to clarify if talks with defence ministry to release an additional block of 5 MHz in the 2100 MHz band has occurred and its outcome.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi |
November 8, 2014 1:45:50 am
Telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have exhausted their 20-year licence period in circles including Delhi, and will soon in Mumbai and Kolkata. Telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have exhausted their 20-year licence period in circles including Delhi, and will soon in Mumbai and Kolkata.

The impasse between the department of telecommunications and operators continues to linger. The inter-departmental secretaries’ panel, Telecom Commission has asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to reconsider its recommendations on valuation of spectrum valuation and pricing norms.

Agency reports quoting a an official of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said, “The Commission today decided to send back reference to Trai as some clarification is required on some of the recommendations. Some recommendations also cannot be implemented.” Trai will now have to debate the issues again.

Telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have exhausted their 20-year licence period in circles including Delhi, and will soon in Mumbai and Kolkata.

They have won back some of the spectrum at the auctions held in February but have got the possession of those airwaves only now in October.

The spectrum they have won in the 900 MHz band has technical specifications different from what they were using so far, and would need about 16 weeks to re-align their services. The changeover has to come into operation in Delhi by the first week of December.

This problem could have been avoided if the telcos had a backup in the 1800 MHz band, but the amount they have is far less than what is needed.

Seconding their position, Trai had sent a letter to the DoT. The letter from Trai chairman Rahul Khullar to telecom secretary Rakesh Garg noted “the delay in assigning spectrum in the 1800 MHz band may lead to a partial breakdown of services offered by these two operators especially in Delhi”, adding that the two operators have a subscriber base of 20 million.

This issue was left undecided by the Commission. On the issue of auctions next February, the problem is the available spectrum is extremely limited. For more spectrum to be made available, it has to be vacated by the defence ministry or state-owned BSNL.

Trai has asked DoT to clarify if talks with defence ministry to release an additional block of 5 MHz in the 2100 MHz band has occurred and its outcome.

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