TRAI plans consultation on 4G spectrum to BSNL and MTNL

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will conduct a consultation on 4G spectrum allocation to state-owned mobile operators BSNL and MTNL.
Data use in India TRAI chartTRAI has received reference from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) a couple of days back on allocation of spectrum for 4G services to BSNL and MTNL.

“We will issue a consultation paper and hold open house discussion on the subject,” RS Sharma, chairman of TRAI told reporters.

Both BSNL and MTNL recently requested the government to allot them spectrum for 4G services in lieu of equity.

BSNL, which has the lowest debt of Rs 14,000 crore among all telecom operators, has sought 4G spectrum across India through equity infusion of Rs 7,000 crore to help it compete in the market.

The Digital Communication Commission, the highest decision maker at DoT, has sought TRAI’s view on the public sector units’ demand for 4G spectrum.

The open house discussion is expected to cover various issues including whether the PSUs should be given spectrum without auction (as they cannot bid along with private operators) and also on the issue of allocation of administrative spectrum, price and quantum of 4G spectrum to BSNL.

BSNL, which has presence across India excluding Mumbai and Delhi metros, currently has 5MHz of spectrum of 800 MHz band.

Earlier, Digital Communications Commission asked loss-making telecom PSUs BSNL and MTNL to explain their turnaround strategy and give an assurance to achieve higher revenue for getting financial support.

MTNL has sought a refund of interest that it paid for broadband wireless access spectrum which it was given by the government and asked to pay the price that was determined in auctions held in 2010.

Both state-run telecom firms have asked for permissions to monetise their land assets as well as the voluntary retirement scheme for employees on the Gujarat model. Under the Gujarat model, an amount equivalent to 35 days of salary for each completed year of service, and 25 days of salary for each year of service left till retirement is offered.

The VRS scheme for BSNL and MTNL will have a revenue impact of Rs 6,365 crore and Rs 2,120 crore respectively.

MTNL, which operates in only Delhi and Mumbai, and expects that these measures will help the company is doing away with debt to the tune of around Rs 19,000 crore.