New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has started consultations on a price-discovery mechanism for spectrum to be auctioned in the future, making clear that there won’t be any extensions in the deadline for comments from stakeholders this time.
The telecom regulator usually has to agree to requests for an extension by the industry whenever it seeks comments on proposals but it wants to ensure the delay is minimal with regard to Supreme Court orders.
Trai has set 14 August as the deadline for comments and 21 August for counters.
The regulator is seeking comments on subjects ranging from the method for refarming of 900MHz spectrum band for telcos with licences expiring from 2014 onward to the quantum of spectrum that should be auctioned and at what price.
“On 10th July, the department of telecommunications (DoT) sought the Trai’s recommendations on the applicable reserve price for the auction of spectrum in the 800MHz, 900MHz and 1,800Mhz bands. In this context, Trai has issued this consultation paper raising specific issues for consideration of stakeholders,” a Trai release said.
“The key issues raised in the consultation paper are quantum of spectrum to be auctioned, eligibility for participation, roll-out obligations, methods to be used for the valuation and estimation of reserve price of spectrum, review of spectrum usage charges and spectrum trading,” it said.
The regulator has also asked whether the 2G spectrum price for the next auction should be based on the 3G price discovered in 2010.
The 3G auction was the basis on which the Comptroller and Auditor General arrived at its notional loss of Rs.1.76 trillion to the exchequer in what is now called the 2G scam. Trai has also asked whether indexing of spectrum to the price in 2001 should be the method adopted to arrive at the current price of the airwaves.
Another key issue that the regulator has taken on board is extended GSM, which calls for the use of CDMA spectrum in the 800MHz band for GSM services due to the diminishing interest in CDMA services.
The regulator has also chosen to address the trading of spectrum. “Is it the right time to permit spectrum trading in India? If yes, what should be the legal, regulatory and technical framework required for trading?” said the consultation paper dated 23 July and reviewed by Mint.
The decision to refer the issue back to Trai was taken by the empowered group of ministers (eGoM) on spectrum on 26 June after two earlier auctions, in November and March, had failed despite a discount in reserve price.