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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

DoT tells TRAI to comply with govt directions for CDMA auction

PTI  New Delhi, December 21, 2013
First Published: 12:55 IST(21/12/2013) | Last Updated: 12:58 IST(21/12/2013)
Pressing for fresh views on CDMA spectrum price, the Department of Telecom on Saturday informed TRAI that the sectoral regulator needs to comply with government directions under Section 25 of TRAI Act.
 
"The decision to auction spectrum in 800 Mhz (CDMA) band is a policy of the government in terms of Section 25 of the Trai Act 1997", the DoT said in a letter as per official sources.
 
The Section 25, which is about the government's power to issue direction to the TRAI, says the regulator will "be bound by such directions on questions of policy as the Central Government may give in writing to it from time to time".
 
The DoT and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) have locked horns on auction of CDMA spectrum.
 
The department on December 12 had approached the TRAI for fourth time within six months for seeking its recommendation on minimum price that should be fixed for CDMA spectrum.
 
The Trai on December 13 responded asking the DoT to confirm as to whether its views, alongwith DoT's observations, were placed before the EGoM and if the ministerial panel has sought fresh recommendations on the issue.
 
Sources said that the DoT has confirmed to the Trai that both their observations were placed last month before the EGoM on telecom, headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram.
 
The regulator had in September recommended against the auction of CDMA spectrum and suggested that the government explore as to whether a part of 800 Mhz could be used for a E-GSM services.
 
The DoT had explained to Trai that E-GSM band required vacation of spectrum by the defence ministry, which is likely to take time. In this scenario, it added, keeping unsold spectrum in the 800 Mhz (CDMA) band would result in revenues foregone for the government.
 
On December 13, the Trai had asked the DoT if it has examined the possibility of making alternate arrangements for the spectrum that needs to be vacated by the defence which is hampering path for E-GSM service.
 
Official sources said the DoT has also informed the Trai that the process for shifting of defence assignments to other frequency has not started yet.
 
The DoT has also clarified to TRAI that spectrum auctioned in November and thereafter were liberalised which means that any technology can be used in these auctioned airwaves frequencies for providing mobile telephony.
 
The government had last conducted CDMA spectrum auction in March 2013. Sistema Shyam Teleservices was the only player who had participated in the auction and bought spectrum in eight of the 21 circles.

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