The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) appears to be open to auctioning of wireless spectrum, even as the industry tribunal on Wednesday asked the Solicitor General to state the Centre’s official views on the department’s latest rules that have stirred controversy.
The tribunal widened the ambit as it started spadework on the Cellular Operators Association of India’s (COAI) plea to challenge DoT’s decision to allocate spectrum for Reliance and help it add GSM technology-based services to CDMA offerings.
The chairman of the Telecom Settlement Disputes appellate Tribunal(TDSAT), Justice Arun Kumar, asked Solicitor General Goolam E Vahanvati to give the Centre’s opinion on the matter, fixing November 12 as the next date for its hearing.
The DoT framed its new rules on October 19, leaving a question mark on whether 46 new applicants will get spectrum, while clearly linking further allocation of 2G spectrum for GSM incumbents to actual roll-out of networks.
But the rules signalled that there was room to conduct auctions for allocation of spectrum.
“In case of spectrum auction, a licencee, who has not met the roll-out obligation against an existing licence, should not be eligible to participate in any spectrum auction till the roll-out obligation is met,” DoT said.
By implication, auction was not ruled out, but has been linked to ground-level use of spectrum already allotted.
The DoT’s position runs contrary to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) which was not for auctions in the 2G related spectrum bands of 800,900 and 1800 Megahertz.