The Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended that the cost of start-up spectrum for new 2G operators should be set at INR109.72 billion (USD2.4 billion), more than six times its current cost. According to India’s Economic Times, the regulator proposed the pricing for an operator’s initial 6.2MHz block of pan-India spectrum in a recommendation to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), while also arguing that frequencies held beyond that contracted limit should be charged a one-off fee of INR45.72 billion per MHz. Further, the TRAI has recommended that the revised pricing structure be implemented retroactively, and apply from 1 April 2010.
Unsurprisingly, a number of mobile operators have reacted unfavourably to the proposals, with the country’s largest cellco by subscribers Bharti Airtel among them. Bharti claimed that the TRAI’s pricing proposal was unfair and ‘defies logic’, although it did note that it expects the government’s final policy to be fair and non-discriminatory. Vodafone Essar meanwhile, which estimated that its own one-time fee under the proposals would be INR17.43 billion, called the plans ‘flawed, illogical and discriminatory.’