Indian telecom industry up in arms against Spectrum policy

Telecom Lead India: The Indian telecom industry has
expressed apprehension on the TRAI’s latest recommendations on the auction of
2G spectrum.

TRAI has proposed reserve pricing/ per MHz for 700 MHz at
Rs 14,000 crore, for 800/900 MHz band at Rs 7,244 crore and for 1800 MHz at Rs
3,622 crore, which translates into a reserve price of over Rs 18,100
crores for a block of 5 Mhz in 1800 Mhz band.  


The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and
the Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) have
expressed their concern and disapproval of these recommendations and termed
them as being arbitrary, regressive and inconsistent.


The industry was looking forward to reasonable spectrum
reserve price recommendations from TRAI in the light of the government’s own
articulated policy directions on affordability, rural penetration, etc.


The industry has been facing contradictory and regressive
approach from the regulator which is detrimental to the future of the sector
that is often touted as the poster boy of India’s economic reforms.


The TRAI’s actions seem to be directed towards creating
unnecessary constraints for the sector, overlooking the universal rules of
sustainability and growth for this sector. Under such inconsistent, regressive
and uncertain regulatory environment, it is inconceivable that the telecom
industry, which is already in a state of doldrums, will be able to deliver on
the Government’s vision of affordable communications, rural penetration and
rollout of data services.


It will hurt the ability of the country to be at par with
other developing and developed nations where access to communication and
information via the Mobile broadband route has been regarded as the foremost
parameter for the socio-economic growth an index of national competitive
advantage. Moreover, it will also affect the investors’ already shaken
sentiments as it will prove to be an impediment for operators to invest and
expand services.


The industry was also hoping that TRAI would limit its
recommendations narrowly to the matter referred to it by the Supreme Court, i.e
auction of canceled 2G licenses.


However, the expansion of the recommendations to cover
such matters as 700 MHz auction, refarming, etc. have caused concerns to the
industry relating to existing rights to spectrum conferred by extended licenses
with operators.


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