The Telecom Ministry has finally decided to go along with telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendations on allocation of spectrum to both incumbent players and new applicants.
The Telecom Commission, the Department of Telecommunications’ (DoT) policy wing, which is looking into the regulator’s proposals, and Telecom Minister A. Raja are understood to have reached a “consensus to go by TRAI’s recommendations on spectrum allocation”, a source told the Hindustan Times.
This effectively means the existing 2G (second generation) spectrum bands — 800 MHz (Megahertz), 900 MHz and 1800MHz — would not be auctioned, while subscriber-based spectrum allocation criteria will remain. The regulator had recommended increasing the subscriber base by 2 to 6 times for new spectrum allocation to incumbent players.
All this does not however mean that all the 30 new parties who applied for the universal access service licence (UASL) will be allocated spectrum, even though so far, spectrum has come bundled with a telecom licence. A senior DoT official told the Hindustan Times: “This is a false notion that spectrum comes along with the licence. They can park their license fee with the government, but I can’t provide spectrum for 200 or 300 applications.”
Priority is likely to be given to the 22 applicants who have licences to begin or expand, but have not yet been allocated the bandwidth. Among those in the queue are Vodafone Essar, Spice, Idea, Reliance and HFCL.