DoT to frame fresh guidelines to screen new licenses: Raja

DoT to frame fresh guidelines to screen new licenses: Raja

New Delhi: The Department of Telecom, facing a flood of applications from new companies planning to start operations, will prepare a fresh set of guidelines to screen applicants and award licenses.

“I have asked DoT secretary to form a committee to frame guidelines for grant of license to the new applicants. The panel will work our fresh guidelines for the new applicants to get the licenses," Communications Minister A Raja told reporters on the sidelines of a function.

Raja said considering the huge number of applications, there was a need to form new norms to issue licenses.

There are about 140 new proposals from various companies seeking universal access service licenses to provide services across the country, the world’s fastest-growing telecom market. Recently, even real estate players such as Parsvnath Developers and Unitech Ltd applied for licenses.

Raja said the grant of licenses would be subject to availability of spectrum and new guidelines. “All the applications will be scrutinised and limited applications will be selected," he said.

DoT sources said the committee would also look into the actual shareholding of the new applicants to see if existing companies were seeking licenses as proxy to bypass laws. Cellular Operators Association of India, a lobby of GSM players, has already written to DoT asking it to scrutinise applicants who, it alleged, could be front companies of big corporates.

Asked about the availability of spectrum in view of new applicants, Raja said: “I would be fair to all the three categories -- existing players who need radio waves for expansion, new players who have licence but yet to start service in the absence of spectrum and the new applicants who are yet to get licence".

On the issue of TRAI’s recommendations that the number of players in a circle need not be limited, he said: “We are still evaluating TRAI recommendations on licensing review. We will take the appropriate decision keeping in mind the number of new applicants as well as the availability of spectrum."

Corporates’ interest in the telecom sector gained momentum recently after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) suggested there should not be any limit on the number of service operators in a particular network area. Separately, the Ministry of Defence is looking at vacating spectrum currently used by armed forces for telecom companies.