The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Tuesday notified guidelines that will allow mobile phone companies to trade spectrum among themselves. The move is aimed at increasing the amount of spectrum that cellular operators need to improve their voice and internet services by utilising frequencies available with their peers.
As per the guidelines notified, spectrum can be traded between two mobile phone operators with only outright transfer of right to use the spectrum from the seller to the buyer shall be permitted. Spectrum trading will not alter the original validity period of spectrum. Spectrum trading will be permitted only on a pan-LSA (Licensed Service Area) basis.
The seller must clear all his dues prior to entering into any agreement for spectrum trading. Thereafter, dues recoverable up to the effective date of transfer will be the liability of buyer. Besides, All access spectrum bands earmarked for Access Services by the licensor will be treated as tradable spectrum bands.
Spectrum purchased through an auction from May-June 2010 onwards can be traded and others acquired earlier have to pay market value if they want to trade that band of spectrum. For 800 MHz band acquired in the auction held in March 2013, trading of spectrum will be permitted only if the differential of the latest auction price and the March 2013 auction price on pro-rata basis on the balance period of right to use the spectrum is paid.
If any telecom service provider sells only a part of its spectrum holding in a specific bandwidth, both, buyer as well as seller, will be required to pay the remaining installments of payment. Frequency swapping or reconfiguration from within the assignments made to the licensees will not be treated as trading of spectrum.
The Union Cabinet had on September 9 last month approved spectrum trading guidelines while rejecting telecom companies demand for not charging licence fee and Spectrum Usage Charge (SUC) on the amount received from trading of airwaves.
The new spectrum trading guidelines will also help telecom players who bought spectrum but have less customers compared to their peers.