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NEW DELHI : The Broadband India Forum (BIF), which represents tech companies and enterprises, has asked for clarity on pricing of direct allotment of airwaves and objected to the first-mover advantage that telecom service providers will get when they acquire spectrum through auctions next month.

The forum has sought government intervention and argued that by giving telcos spectrum ahead of enterprises would be ‘most unfair and unjust’ and would convert the option of direct spectrum allotment for enterprises into a non-option.

“Apart from the aspect of allotment of spectrum directly to enterprises, there is uncertainty also as regards the pricing of spectrum. While the decision of zero entry fee for the CNPN licence is greatly appreciated, it is unclear whether the spectrum would also be without charge, or, if charged, what it would be and when it would be announced," the forum said in a letter to the secretary of the telecom department, K. Rajaraman dated 29 June.

It also flagged concerns over the “unnecessarily high" 100 crore minimum net worth criteria of newly-framed guidelines for captive private networks and said it was “puzzled" at the precondition for direct assignment of spectrum to enterprises that required the Department of Telecom (DoT) to conduct demand studies, according to the telecom regulator’s recommendations.

“While one can envisage the possibility of demand estimates/studies in the case of public or external networks, the same appear to be rather inconceivable in the case of captive/non-public/ private networks since these would vary from entity to entity in the same category and, further, from category to category and, of course, from industry vertical to industry vertical," the forum said in the letter.

The communication follows spectrum leasing rules and guidelines for captive non-public networks or CNPN licence that were issued by the government on 27 June, which said that companies wanting to buy spectrum directly from the government need to obtain a 10-year renewable licence at no charge, but pay a one-time, non-refundable application processing fee of 50,000.

Businesses with a net worth of at least 100 crore can set up private 5G networks.

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