The Telecom Commision on Wednesday decided to send back the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) proposals on spectrum sharing and trading guidelines on the ground that it needed more clarification on certain issues.
According to sources, the panel, which is the highest decision making body of the department of telecommunications (DoT), discussed the issue, wherein it was decided to seek further clarity on certain points from Trai.
“The Trai proposals were discussed at the meeting. There is a need for further clarification on certain issues and it was decided to send back the recommendations to Trai,” sources said.
As per practice in place, the Trai is supposed top revert within 15 days with its reconsidered views. It has the option of sticking to its earlier point but then the government is free to go ahead with its views.
The guidelines of spectrum trading which were submitted by Trai in January 2014 and those for sharing in July the same year.
For trading Trai has recommended that telcos will need to have airwaves at telecom service area level and not a portion of it. Spectrum in the 2G, 3G, 4G (BWA) and CDMA bands should be allowed to be traded, the regulator has recommended.
For entering in trading agreement, telecom companies will not require prior permission from government but the company will have to inform the licence issuing authority (DoT) six weeks before the effective date of trading spectrum, Trai has recommended. It can be done only between two operators in a given circle.
Once trading is allowed, it will lead to efficient use of radiowaves by enabling telecom operators that have a lower subscriber base or unutilised spectrum to trade in it.
On the other hand, Trai has recommended sharing of all categories of telecom airwaves held by telcos, including spectrum allocated at old price of Rs 1,658 crore or assigned without auction. However, telcos need to have spectrum in these bands in the given circle.
The government had earlier in-principle approved sharing of only those spectrum under new licencing regime which have been purchased through spectrum auction to increase interest of bidders and enhance revenue generation in the auction. It in-principle approved sharing of spectrum allocated without auction on condition that companies holding such airwaves will have to pay one-time spectrum charge.
Spectrum sharing will allow telecom companies to share their unutilised airwaves with other service providers in the same telecom circle. At present, telecom operators are allowed to share passive infrastructure like mobile towers but not active infrastructure like spectrum.
The move to allow sharing of all kind of airwaves held by telecom operators for mobile services, if approved by government, will benefit incumbent players like Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications, Aircel and Tata Teleservices to bring down cost of spectrum ownership — a key component for providing mobile and other wireless services.