TRAI refuses to issue recommendations on 800MHz pricing

19 Nov 2013

The upcoming auction of 2G spectrum may be derailed by a disagreement between the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) over the sale of 800MHz frequencies. According to local news reports, the DoT has instructed the TRAI to provide recommendations on pricing and valuation for spectrum in the 800MHz band within 15 days. However, the TRAI has rebuffed the DoT, saying that it cannot add a new recommendation to its existing proposals and would have to launch a ‘fresh and new’ reference in order to comply with the DoT’s order, but this would take far longer than the 15 day deadline put forward. In order to meet the DoT’s demand, the TRAI says it would require a consultation process and seek the views of the public at large and then hold an open house before finally arriving at a conclusion. The TRAI added that it was outside of the DoT’s remit to impose time restrictions on the regulator: ‘There is no provision in the TRAI Act which enables the stipulation of time limits. Hence, it is not appropriate for DoT to presume it can suggest a time limit (even as preference).’ The government must now decide to forge ahead with the sale of 900MHz and 1800MHz, or delay the tender to include the 800MHz range in the auction.