EGoM makes roll-out obligations compulsory, to discuss reserve price on Friday

Telecom Lead India: It is now compulsory for telecom
operators getting spectrum via auction to roll-out services in 30 percent of
block level headquarters in five years, the EGoM decided today.


The EGoM, headed by Home Minister P Chidambaram approved,
rollout obligations, under which old rollout conditions would continue to stay.


As per the rollout-obligations, spectrum winners will
have to cover 10 percent block level headquarters in three years, 20 percent in
four years and 30 percent in five years.


Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said that these rollout
obligations apply to both existing and new players.


However, the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) deferred
the meeting till Friday over the decision on reserved price.


TRAI, previously recommended that operators should cover
50 percent of villages having population of over 2,000 people in three years
and 100 percent in four years from the date spectrum is allocated to them.
However, these recommendations were criticized by the industry.


Speaking on the spectrum reserve price issue, Sibal said
that a discussion held over issues namely the spectrum usage charges and the
reserve price and it will be continued on Friday morning when the group will
meet again.


DoT reportedly has been asked to prepare a matrix of
various levels of reserve price and spectrum usage charge, which will be presented
to the EGoM in its next meeting scheduled for July 20.


TRAI had recommended a minimum reserve price of over Rs
3,622 crore for auction of one Mhz of spectrum in the 1800 Mhz band.


The Indian telecom industry has been demanding a
significant reduction in the TRAI specified base price of Rs 3,622 crore per
unit of spectrum in the 1800 MHz band, which amounts to over Rs 18,000 crore
for pan-India licenses.


Earlier, TRAI chairman Rahul Khullar said that
telcos are opposing the proposed recommendations because it is hard for them to
raise funds for the upcoming auctions due to big debts.


Khullar said that the real difficulty is that the sector
has a debt exposure of close to 2, 00,000 crore.


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