EGoM wants SC direction to solve unsold spectrum issue

Telecom Lead Asia: EGoM is looking for Supreme Court’s direction to solve unsold spectrum issue.

It’s true: Supreme Court leads regulation, ahead of telecom ministry

In our earlier blog, we shared several suggestions to reduce friction between government and the apex court. Operators also play a key role in creating such uncertain market conditions. For each and every small issue, operators are approaching the court. Debates are not giving any result.

Telecom minister Kapil Sibal cannot take resolve all issues. The industry needs to discuss and settle their problems. According to media reports, GSM players are now unhappy with Reliance Industries’ 4G venture getting permission for voice services for an additional fee of Rs 1600 crore. All BWA players will be getting permission for VoLTE. In fact, BWA spectrum was — when it auctioned in 2010, meant for WiMax based broadband services. Currently, everyone is looking for launching TD-LTE services using the same spectrum.

On Wednesday, the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on telecom has decided to seek the Supreme Court’s directions on what it should do with unsold spectrum after the March 11 auction of 800-MHz (CDMA) spectrum.

The decision came after three alternatives were suggested after discussions on a note prepared by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for the EGoM. One, stick to the current base price for unsold 1800-MHz spectrum for unsold circles, too. Two, revise the price. And, three, seek fresh recommendation from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), on the basis of a fresh reference.

“After the March 11 auction, we will assess the situation and go to SC regarding future auctions,” said Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal after the meeting.

On March 11, DoT will conduct auction for 800 MHz spectrum for the only bidder Sistema Shyam Teleservices (MTS India). MTS India is looking for bidding for 10 circles.

The bidding for 900 MHz spectrum for the Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata circles will not take place as some telcos have moved SC against the proposed auction.

Meanwhile, EGoM also decided the government would allow Telenor to adjust the spectrum charges against the entry fee of Rs 1,658 crore Unitech Wireless, its earlier JV with the Unitech group, had paid in 2008.

The government had earlier denied an adjustment for Telenor, as it had bid in the November auction by floating a new company — Telewings Communications — and won spectrum in six circles for Rs 4,018.28 crore.

The EGoM was also expected to take a decision on the timeline for the third round of auctions for 1,800-MHz spectrum across all unsold circles. DoT had earlier said it would conduct it to allocate unsold spectrum across India to abide by the SC order of February 15, 2012, which had said all unsold spectrum should be auctioned. But the panel could not take a decision on this on Wednesday.

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