TRAI Chief speaks on spectrum auction, tariff hike, pesky calls and over-billing

Telecom Lead India: The chairman of Telecom Regulatory
Authority of India (TRAI) on Monday spoke out on various issues that have been
troubling the telecom industry and consumers, including proposed spectrum
auction, reserve base price, pesky calls, mobile tower radiation and

Rahul Khullar, chairman of TRAI, said that the telecom
industry is not disappointed with the government’s decision to reduce reserve
price for 2G spectrum from Rs 18,000 crore to Rs 14,000 crore.

Khullar affirmed that the proposed auction of airwaves
will be successful. He was in Bangalore on Monday to participate in an interaction
program organized by the Federation of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and
Industry (FKCCI).

While addressing the media, he said it was TRAI’s job to
fix the reserve price at Rs 18,000 and the government had no obligation to
accept it. He added that industry has not come back on the issue of TRAI’s
decision to fix reserve price at Rs 18,000 for spectrum.

TRAI chief also clarified that the price of spectrum has
not caused a grief to the telecom industry. However, the Indian telecom
industry termed TRAI’s recommendations on spectrum auction as arbitrary,
regressive and inconsistent.

Without disclosing names of individuals and companies,
Khullar commented that some players approached and told him that they believe
in auction.

He reiterated that media is building a square that the
auction will not take place; however, the auction will take place, as there
will be bidders and the auction will surely be a success.

In April this year, TRAI had recommended high base price
of Rs 18,000 crore for pan-India spectrum in 1800 MHz band in the proposed
auction. In response to the higher base price for spectrum, telecom operators
claimed that mobile phone tariffs will be hiked up to Rs 1 per minute.

On Monday, Khullar also clarified that the price of radio
spectrum is not the primary determinant of mobile phone tariffs.

Very recently, the Union Cabinet fixed a floor or minimum
price of Rs 14,000 crore for pan-India spectrum, which is 22 percent lower than
the earlier base price suggested by TRAI.

Speaking on unwanted SMS and phone calls, Khullar
commented that TRAI has decided to do something to solve problems of consumers
regarding unwanted SMS and phone calls from unregistered telemarketing

TRAI has also issued notices to telecom service providers
to discuss the issue. Khullar said that TRAI wants to consult all stakeholders
on these issues to find a solution within a few months.

When asked about complaints related to telecom towers,
Khullar said telecom towers should not be installed on buildings that could not
take the load.

On radiation issue, TRAI chief said that the matter is
serious and it needs to be looked at rationally and scientifically. He added
that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is in the process of revising
safety standards that are based on standards being adopted in Europe.

On complaints of overbilling from cellular service
operators, Khullar said that TRAI has sent out notices to operators last week.

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