Differences emerge in DoT over additional spectrum allocation

Differences emerge in DoT over additional spectrum allocation

New Delhi: Sharp difference are believed to have emerged in the Department of Telecom over TRAI’s proposal to change existing subscriber-linked criteria for allocating additional spectrum, with Communication Minister A Raja in favour while the Telecom Commission opposing it.

According to sources, Telecom Commission, headed by telecom secretary, has taken a final view on TRAI’s recommendations with regard to spectrum allocation, number of players in each circle and other issues.

There is unanimity on most of issues especially on not capping the number of players, but on spectrum allocation, the minister, sources said, may overrule Telecom Commission which has rejected the telecom regulator’s recommendation.

TRAI had suggested nearly five-fold increase in subscribers base to become eligible for additional spectrum.

If the regulator’s proposal is accepted, none of the existing mobile operators, be it Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Essar or others, would be eligible for additional spectrum.

Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), a lobby group of private GSM mobile operators, has already rejected TRAI’s suggestions and termed them as erroneous and legally untenable.

The Telecom Commission, which held a series of meeting during the last two weeks and also met cellular operators twice to take final view on TRAI’s proposals, is likely to send its view to the minister in next two days.

Sources, however, said that the Commission has accepted the proposal that there should not be a cap on number of operators in a circle.

On the issue of auctioning of additional spectrum, the Commission did not find the proposal viable, considering the affordability and low tele-density in the country.

Some of the recommendations which have also been accepted include bringing down the combined subscriber base criteria from 67% to 40% in the merged entity in case of merger and acquisitions, sources said.

Meanwhile, DoT has also sent some of the proposals relating to spectrum allocation to new players and revenue share beyond 6.2 MHz to the Telecom Engineering Consultants (TEC) for a detailed review before taking final a decision.