The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the department of telecommunications (DoT) are at loggerheads over the issue of issuing licences to new telecom operators on a first-come, first-served basis.
In its reply to a letter from the Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), who has questioned the DoT’s policy, the DoT has said that it has followed TRAI recommendations on this issue.
However, the regulator says that it never recommended the first-come, first-served basis for allotment of new licences but such a policy was only in reference to spectrum for existing players.
“In the context of auction of 2G spectrum, TRAI had observed that any differential treatment to a new entrant vis-a-vis incumbent will go against the principle of level playing field,” DoT said in its reply to the Central Vigilance Commissioner made available to Hindustan Times.
“The 2003 TRAI recommendations clearly say that new entrants should be brought in through multi-stage bidding,” TRAI chairman Nripendra Misra told Hindustan Times.
DoT says that during the regime of predecessors of the current Communications and IT minister A Raja, licences were issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Raja has continued with the same policy.
TRAI says that issuing licences and issuing spectrum to exisitng players are two different things, adding that DoT is confusing the two when it is refers to TRAI recommendations on this issue. It says its recommendation of a queue system is with regard to additional spectrum for existing players, not in the context of new entrants.