Trai may reconsider recommendations


2 May 2011
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NEW DELHI: The telecom regulator may be inclined to reconsider its recommendations on spectrum auction if the government asks it to do so, said a senior official aware of the developments.

The future course of action of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, that got former commerce secretary Rahul Khullar as its new chairman this week, would depend on the government's decision and its possible feedback. "Whether or not it takes a fresh look at the earlier proposals would depend on what the Centre has to say," the official added.

The course of events is likely to be primarily decided by the Telecom Commission, the highest decision-making body of the communications ministry, which is scheduled to meet on May 24 to take a view on these proposals.

Telecom secretary R Chandrasekhar had earlier this week said that the regulator's proposals would have to be carefully studied and analysed before drawing any conclusion. The authority had provided detailed reasons on each of the points on which the telecom department had sought clarifications and therefore it was critical to go through them, he said. Chandrasekhar added that any disagreement with the proposals would have to be justified by pertinent reasons.

The telecom department can choose not to accept the recommendations since the government was not bound by these proposals, said an executive of an industry body representing telecoms operators. Trai has not significantly changed its recommendations even after the telecom department sought clarifications on several points.

"It is possible for the DoT to not agree with the proposals entirely, ask for fresh recommendations involving the new chairman and only adopt a narrow reading on auctioning spectrum by August 31, in order to comply with the Supreme Court ruling. It can also choose to completely ignore these recommendations," he said.

Trai's latest recommendations on spectrum auction propose to keep 3,622 crore as reserve price per unit of 2G spectrum, which translates into more than 18,000 crore for a pan-India permit, a price nearly 13 times higher than the cost of the same permits in 2008.

This among other proposals of refarming spectrum used by incumbent operators, spectrum liberalisation and auction of airwaves in different bands staggered over the next two years have caused a huge furore in the industry.

Telecom companies, through various representations and lobbying exercises with the government, have demanded that these recommendations be rejected, as it would lead to doubling of mobile tariffs and put massive pressure on operations, creating a difficult business environment for any service provider.

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