Industry body Broadband India Forum (BIF) has written another letter to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) flagging concerns over several aspects of the newly-framed guidelines for captive private networks, including “high” networth criteria, and uncertainty on pricing of allocated spectrum.

TV Ramachandran, President, BIF, in the letter to K Rajaraman, Secretary, DoT, said, “We are rather puzzled at the stated precondition for direct assignment of spectrum to enterprises that ‘DoT will undertake demand studies’. 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/nonpublic/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.”

“We are honestly unaware of such studies being practicable or having been done in any other regime and would appreciate details of what is proposed,” he said.

While the guidelines say that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI’s) recommendations would be sought for direct assignment of spectrum, it is not understood why prior demand studies are required when the expert techno-economic authority is anyway involved, the letter by BIF, which was seen by BusinessLine, said.

On June 23, BIF had written that the notice inviting applications (NIA) for the upcoming telecom spectrum auctions provide explicit clarity on the subject of captive non-public networks (CNPN) and have laid down the principle that a CNPN can be set up in any of the possible ways as stated in the Section 2.4 of the NIA.

“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 BIF said.

The BIF pointed out that the eligibility criterion of ₹100 crore for getting a CNPN licence appears rather unnecessarily high. While it may be acceptable to large enterprises, it might be a deterrent for young and promising start-ups, reputed research institutions and others, it said.

To provide equity and ensure fair competition, BIF requested the government to protect the interests of smaller enterprises by consciously providing them a suitable handicap. “Without such a facilitation, it would be difficult to leverage the indubitable advantages of an enterprise owned and built network,” it added.