The spectrum controversy has drawn a wider audience with former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh N. Chandrababu Naidu writing to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his intervention so that more players could be given licences. Naidu said that existing operators must be asked to surrender excess spectrum held by them.
In a letter dated December 4, Naidu said the increased competition would benefit the consumer and earn valuable revenue for the exchequer. "At a minimum, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) should adopt the Telecommunication Engineering Centre (TEC) recommendations,” Naidu said.
"Wwith the acceptance of the TEC criteria, the available spectrum will allow commencement of the service by minimum four new operators. This will yield for the government Rs 6,500 crore as entry free and up to Rs 20,000 crore as direct and indirect taxes on full rollout of network by new operators," he said.
The TEC, which is a government body, had brought out spectrum allocation criteria in October based on a scientific study involving the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and the Association of Unified Telecom Service Provider of India (AUSPI), Naidu said, adding the TEC’s formula is about 1.2 times the one set by the telecom regulator TRAI (Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of India) and lower than TRAI's criteria in six circles.
Citing the example of regulators in the UK, Argentina Chile, Peru and the US, Naidu said: " The regulators across the world have been directing cellular operators to surrender excess spectrum.”.