The government has asked telecom operators not to involve the communications ministry in their conflicts, till they have exhausted all options for a resolution.
Speaking at an internal meeting of the Confederation of Indian Industry, telecom secretary Rakesh Garg on Wednesday also dismissed operators’ arguments on “right of way” for tower installation, lack of spectrum and lower spectrum fees.
Right of way refers to the right to pass over property owned by another party and is essential to set up infrastructure such as towers, cables etc.
“Such a situation only existed in cities and operators should go to villages where spectrum was in plenty, and so were potential subscribers,” Garg said responding to operators’ concerns over the lack of spectrum.
“It is comforting that secretary understood the issues, though there was no affirmative response to the problems raised by us,” a senior executive of a leading telecom company told HT.
However, not everyone was happy though. Instead of responding to problems, the telecom secretary has thrown up new challenges, some executives said.
When contacted a CII spokesperson said, “It was an internal meeting of CII and we do not discuss this, outside.”
Telcos also complained about the lack of support and delay in securing “right of way” to set up telecom towers, which ultimately hit their finances.
Garg, however, suggested that operators should approach the respective state government and find solutions, similar to Uttar Pradesh, where “right of way” has been made free.
He also said that India is likely to encounter a tremendous shortage of spectrum in near future. Operators, whose licences will expire in 2014-15, will have to slug it out in the auctions to be held in 2014-15.