TRAI, the telecom regulator, today said induction of additional mobile service providers in various services areas could be considered if there was adequate availability of spectrum for existing players and for new players if allowed.
"TRAI is in favour of open competition in different segments of telecom market and has recommended accordingly to Government in respect of the different services. However, in respect to the cellular mobile services there has to be a clear view on the quantum of additional spectrum which could be allocated to cellular services," TRAI has said.
In a letter to Department of Telecom (DOT) secretary Vinod Vaish, TRAI Chairman M S Verma has said, "Induction of additional mobile service providers in various service areas can be considered if there is adequate availability of spectrum for existing as well as new players, if permitted."
Drawing DoT's attention to the delay in allotment of frequency of operations to the fourth cellular operator and the pending unsatisfied demand of additional spectrum, TRAI said these factors indicated prevailing spectrum constraint even to existing cellular operators.
TRAI said that while examining the possibility of inducting additional cellular players in various service areas the issues such as spectrum needed to be addressed in depth.
Constrained spectrum allocation in India imposed a "needless constraint" on cellular operators, Verma said but pointed out, "TRAI's view remains unchanged that objectives of increasing competition and improving quality, coverage and price efficiency will have to be achieved so that larger objective of quality services at affordable prices was not jeopardised.
TRAI said it had come to the conclusion that existing cellular operators in India had much less spectrum allocation in comparison to their counterparts in other countries.
"This imposes a needless constraint on them in respect to both quality of service and optimal network engineering."
Quoting extracts of National Frequency Allocation Plan 2002 (NFAP), it said allocation suggested that 75+75 MHz in a particular band was not exclusively for cellular mobile services as indicated by DoT.
TRAI has sought clarification on the issue from the Department.
Currently in most of the circles four cellular operators including Bharat Sanchar Nigam and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd have been licenced, and with the entry of private basic service operators into the WLL arena at least two limited mobility operators operate in different areas.
"However, while there is no limit in principle to the number of basic operators who can enter, the offering of WLL services would be limited by the availibilty of spectrum," TRAI said.