Rahul Khullar has joined as the chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) at a time when the telecom sector is in the news. Khullar, who was commerce secretary, takes over from JS Sarma, who completed his three- year tenure on Sunday.
However, Khullar may not have to face wrath of the industry as Sarma has taken decisions on major important issues.
In his recommendations on the auction of spectrum, Sarma has given recommendations on all the important issues such as liberalistaion, refarming of spectrum, reserve price and process of auction of spectrum and rural obligations. He has also suggested a roadmap for allotting spectrum in 700, 800, 900 and 1800 MHz band in future.
As per the Trai Act, the government can seek clarifications from the regulator only once. This process is also complete as the regulator, on Sunday, sent his response on various clarifications sought by the government.
Earlier, the Trai recommended delinking of spectrum from licences and how to migrate the existing telecom licence holders to the new regime.
There are two important industry lobbies in the telecom industry — Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and Association of unified Service providers of India (AUSPI). The COAI is dominated by the old incumbent GSM service providers, while the AUSPI represents interests of dual technology operators.
The COAI is opposed to Sarma’s recommendation on the refarming of spectrum as its members hold major chunk of spectrum in 900 MHz band. If it is taken away from them, they will have to make huge investments in setting up infrastructure. The AUSPI supports refarming saying that its members will get equal opportunity to acquire spectrum in 900 Mhz band, which is considered to be very efficient.