Telecom regulator declines to suggest price for CDMA spectrum

Thomas K Thomas New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on November 18, 2013

The telecom regulator has now told the DoT that the Government can decide on the pricing if it wants to.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has told the Government that it cannot give recommendations on pricing of CDMA spectrum within the 15-day deadline set by the Department of Telecom.

The regulator has said that it has already given its views twice, the maximum number of times the Government can seek a view on the same issue under the TRAI Act.

Fresh reference

The DoT will have to send a fresh reference if it wants the TRAI to give recommendations on 800 MHz spectrum band, it said. Last week, the Department of Telecom had asked the regulator to propose the reserve price for this frequency band within 15 days.

“The Authority notes with concern that there is suggested time limit, albeit as a preference. There is no provision in the TRAI Act which enables the stipulation of time limits,” stated a letter from Rajeev Agrawal, Secretary, TRAI to the DoT.

The DoT, on the other hand, wants to finalise the base price for this band so that it can be put up for auction along with 1800 MHz and 900 MHz bands by early 2014.

Opposing the move, the TRAI had proposed that the 800 MHz band should not be auctioned so that it can be used for GSM services. The regulator justified its stand by saying that there were not many takers for this spectrum in the last round of auction. This frequency band is currently used by CDMA operators, including Sistema Shyam, Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices. These operators objected to the TRAI proposal on grounds that it would block their future roll out.

The Telecom Commission, the highest decision making body of the DoT, decided to over rule the TRAI on grounds that keeping spectrum in the 800 MHz band unsold would result in foregone revenues for the Government.

Meeting on Nov 22

The telecom regulator has now told the DoT that the Government can decide on the pricing if it wants to auction it. “The Authority is of the opinion that the action on original reference is over and done with. There can be no continuing reference to that earlier reference. It is now for the Central Government to take a final decision,” the TRAI letter said.

All eyes will now be on the Empowered Group of Ministers, which is scheduled to meet on November 22.


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Published on November 18, 2013
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