Wednesday, June 09, 2010

India - Govt has formed a panel to review regulator's advice on spectrum management

[business-standard] The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has set up three internal committees to examine the recommendations on spectrum management and other licensing issues by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

The committees would study the recommendations on licensing, spectrum and finance, before submiting their report to the Telecom Commission — the highest policy making body of the department — for a final decision, a senior ministry official said. Subsequently, a new telecom policy would be formulated.

The department will go through Trai’s recommendations, including rules for merger and acquisitions, spectrum sharing, rollout obligations and licensing fee among others.

However, DoT would not look into the proposals of Trai on pricing of the 2G spectrum and refarming of 800 MHz and 900 MHz frequency. The regulator has said it was conducting a separate study on these issues and the department should wait for the final views before taking any decision.

In its recommendations last month, Trai had said operators having over 6.2MHz of 2G spectrum should pay a price that was discovered through the auction of the 3G spectrum. It also said spectrum in 800 and 900 MHz should be refarmed and operators should be moved to a different band when their licenses come up for renewal.

These recommendations were strongly criticised by existing mobile operators, including Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone Essar. Existing players would have to fork out a huge amount if the Trai recommendations are accepted by DoT.

It had also started a controversy as experts and industry insiders feel the prices of 2G spectrum could not be linked with that of the 3G spectrum, as these are two different technologies and 3G is three times more efficient than the 2G frequency.

DoT forms panels to examine Trai recommendations

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