Telecom Commission Tells Trai to Review Spectrum Proposals

Telecom Commission Tells Trai to Review Spectrum Proposals

Inter-ministerial panel Telecom Commission has decided to send back Trai's recommendations on spectrum valuation and pricing for a review, saying that some of them can't be implemented in the present form.

"Telecom Commission [Thursday] decided to send back reference to Trai as some clarification is required on some of the recommendations. Some recommendations also cannot be implemented and hence TC wants Trai to reconsider them," a DoT official said.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had last month given its recommendations on valuation and pricing of 1800MHz and 900MHz spectrum bands, being used for 2G services, for the next round of auction.

The regulator had suggested about 10 percent higher price for spectrum in 1800MHz over the final bid price that was received in the February auction.

TC has also has send back recommendation given for 800MHz (CDMA) spectrum band by Trai in February for reconsidering some points. The regulator had suggested CDMA spectrum reserve price of Rs. 2,685 crores per megahertz for auction, which is around 50 percent higher than the previous pan-India base price.

The regulator has also recommended selling radiowaves in the 2100MHz band along with the proposed auction. Part of spectrum in 2100MHz band is held by Defence and DoT is in discussions to get some frequencies vacated for 3G mobile services in this band.

"Discussion is on with Defence. TC has decided to focus on spectrum for auction that is coming up for renewal," the official said.

Most of the spectrum which is proposed to be put up for sale is being used by Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications across various parts of the country.

These companies will need to buy back radiowaves to continue their operations in areas where their licences are expiring in 2015-16.

The next round of spectrum auction is proposed to be held in February 2015 from which government is estimated to garner at least Rs. 9,355 crores.

(Also See: Government Should Make More Spectrum Available: Bharti's Mittal)

Trai has also recommended taking back 900MHz spectrum from state-run BSNL and most of CDMA spectrum from MTNL and BSNL. The suggestion has been turned down by DoT's internal committee saying DoT has no jurisdiction to take back spectrum from these companies under the licence conditions.

Although MTNL has offered to surrender one slot of CDMA spectrum, it has sought compensation for it.

"DoT is in discussions with MTNL on the possibility of spectrum vacation but it has no jurisdiction to take back the radiowaves," the official said.

As per the practice in place, Trai sends back its final comments in about 15 days which are again placed before the Telecom Commission for its final call.

"Telecom Commission will give its view to higher authorities for their final decision. In some cases, decision can be taken at the Telecom Ministry's level and in other cases it may need the Cabinet approval," the official said.'


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Further reading: BSNL, DoT, India, MTNL, TRAI, Telecom
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