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TRAI contests CAG claims on comparison between 2G and 3G

Telecom watchdog TRAI has contested the claims of CAG that it was fair to compare the 2G spectrum with 3G.

india Updated: Jun 05, 2012 21:39 IST

Telecom watchdog TRAI has contested the claims of CAG that it was fair to compare the 2G spectrum with 3G.

TRAI chief Rahul Khullar, who appeared before the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on 2G last week along with his predecessor J S Sarma, said, "TRAI has not found 3G to be equivalent to 2G," Committee Chairman P C Chacko told reporters here quoting the regulator's representatives.

Referring to the May 29 meeting of JPC when TRAI brass had appeared before it, Chacko said members had asked the telecom regulator whether 2G was comparable to 3G against the backdrop of the comparison made by government auditor CAG in its report on 2G.

The CAG had said that TRAI in its report of 2010 had observed that 2G services today are actually offering '2.75G' services.

"Therefore, while, comparing special efficiencies and other factors, it is fair to compare existing 2.75G systems with 3G systems," the auditor had observed.

Chacko said TRAI was technically more qualified than CAG to compare the 2G and 3G spectrums. But he hastened to add that JPC was yet to take a final view on the submissions made by the auditor and the telecom watchdog on the issue.

On the appearance of former TRAI chairman Nripendra Mishra before the panel today, Chacko said the regulator did not make any recommendation to the government on the issue of pricing of licences or auction of spectrum.

Mishra told the committee that the DoT never asked for "specific recommendations" regarding pricing of licences or auction of spectrum

Chacko said when committee members pointed out that the TRAI Act had clearly mandated the regulator to make recommendations on suo motu basis, Mishra said since the recommendations are not binding on the government, it was not done.

On the issue of 'first-come first served' policy on issue of licences, Mishra told the JPC that "there was no policy at all."

He said it would work if there were five applicants and could not be applied if there are 500 of them, Chacko said quoting Mishra.

Members then pointed out that during his tenure (March, 2006 to March, 2009), a TRAI report in August, 2007 had stated that in future all spectrum, excluding the spectrum in 800, 900 and 1800 bands (2G) should be auctioned so as to ensure efficient utilisation of the scarce resource.

"To this Mishra responded that even without the recommendation of TRAI, government could have auctioned spectrum.

In reply to a poser, Chacko said the JPC is in possession of files relating to Maxis-Aircel deal and the Devas-Antrix deal. "But we will enquire into the deals to the extent relevant to the JPC mandate," he said.

First Published: Jun 05, 2012 21:38 IST