Govt to allot additional spectrum based on TRAI figures

Govt to allot additional spectrum based on TRAI figures

New Delhi: The government on Wednesday accepted spectrum review committee’s recommendation of allocating additional frequency to existing GSM operators based on TRAI’s subscriber linked formula and in multiples of 1 MHz.

To this effect, an affidavit would be filed in the sectoral tribunal TDSAT and Delhi High Court, where the GSM lobby has challenged the government on spectrum allocation norms, senior officials said.

According to the officials, Communications Minister A Raja on Wednesday signed the file and sent it to Department of Telecom Secretary D S Mathur for action.

The GSM lobby Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) had challenged TRAI’s figures, saying these were not based on scientific calculation and were without consultation of the stakeholders.

Till now, the GSM operators were getting additional spectrum in the multiples of 2.4 to 2.8 MHz and lowering it to 1 MHz would hit the operators as this would mean additional capital expenditure for them.

Asked on other recommendations of the official review committee headed by R Bandyopadhyay, the officials said that a separate file may be submitted in the respective courts.

The panel had suggested that another committee be set up with technical experts to arrive at a scientific subscriber base for apportioning additional spectrum and in the interim period TRAI recommendation be implemented.

In fact, the committee was of view that the subscriber base as suggested by the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC), which is higher than TRAI, could be still higher if all the parameters were taken into account.

Telecom regulator TRAI had recommended up to six times higher subscriber base to be eligible for additional spectrum while the Telecom Engineering Centre’s report had suggested up to 15 times for some of the circles.

Last week, Akhil Gupta of Bharti Airtel on behalf of COAI had asked the government to refer the matter back to TRAI, saying the regulator should go into the process afresh and hold consultation with all stakeholders.

Asked about the issuance of Letters of Intent (LoIs) to waiting applicants, the officials declined to comment, saying a decision in this regard would be taken soon.

Neither TDSAT nor Delhi High Court have stayed the process of issuing LoIs or spectrum to CDMA-based operators entering GSM segment under dual technology or to new players wanting to start GSM services.