Commission rejects TRAI proposals on spectrum pricing

11 Nov 2014

The Telecom Commission has rejected recommendations on pricing for spectrum in the 800MHz, 900MHz and 1800MHz bands from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), sending the regulator back to the drawing board to draft fresh proposals, the Business Standard writes. The Commission dismissed the TRAI’s recommendations, which suggested that the government free up additional airwaves from the ministry of defence and state-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and only begin the sale when enough spectrum was available. The regulator has been given 15 days to submit new recommendations. A senior official from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and a member of the Commission was quoted as saying: ‘Since freeing up additional spectrum from the sources that the TRAI has suggested … will not be possible now, the quantum of spectrum to be auctioned will change. Pricing is linked to the quantum of spectrum to be auction, [so] we need fresh suggestions from the TRAI.’ The unnamed official also confirmed that the government is determined to hold the next frequency auction in February, despite the limited spectrum available. Industry stakeholders have voiced their concerns over the urgency for the sale, claiming that the shortage of spectrum would needlessly inflate prices, making incumbent players vulnerable to aggressive bidding from rivals.