New Delhi: Amid differences between DoT and TRAI over entry of foreign players in the 3G telecom services, Communication and IT Minister A Raja will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh before taking a final decision.
“I, myself, want to discuss the issue with the Prime Minister and Finance Minister P Chidambaram that whether participation of more players in 3G, which would fetch additional revenues for the government should be allowed or we should go by TRAI recommendation,” Raja said.
Telecom regulator TRAI had warned that allowing foreign players in 3G at this juncture would have serious impact on the Indian telecom sector in terms of affordability.
While DoT has said that government may get more revenues, if additional players are allowed.
The Minister who was speaking on the sidelines of a function, however, said the next generation telecom services (3G) would be reality within the UPA government’s tenure that is before May 2009.
TRAI Chairman Nripendra Misra had also written a letter to Finance Secretary D Subbarao cautioning him over entry of foreign players in 3G segment.
Raja said that foreign players are allowed in any case, but in partnership with Indian partner. “It is a question of whether to allow more players over and above the existing operators to participate in the 3G services,” he added.
TRAI feels that with 12-13 players in each circle there would be enough competition for fetching fair value of spectrum for 3G services.
The DoT had earlier sought TRAI’s recommendations on 3G and TRAI had suggested that 3G auctions should be limited to existing UASL operators.
DoT once again referred the matter to TRAI asking to explore the scope for allowing foreign players in bidding for 3G spectrum in a global auction. However, TRAI again reiterated its decision to stick to the domestic players.
TRAI believes only existing UASL licencees can roll out 3G services efficiently.
DoT, apart from looking at the revenue angle also feels that global operators who could not previously have had a chance to enter India’s telecom market can now do so. The finance ministry is supporting DoT’s position.
Raja’s decision to involve PMO in spectrum wrangle comes from the delay in reaching any firm decision on the 3G spectrum.