TRAI to consider BSNL, MTNL 4G spectrum allocation

27 Mar 2019

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has now received a request from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to provide recommendations on the allocation of 4G spectrum to state-backed providers Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL). The Economic Times quotes TRAI Chairman Ram Sewak Sharma as saying that the regulator has received a reference on the allocation and ‘will issue a consultation paper and hold [an] open house discussion on it soon.’ The announcement follows on the heels of a statement from an unnamed TRAI official earlier this week which challenged the DoT’s claims that it had handed the matter to the watchdog. BSNL and MTNL have requested additional frequencies for 4G services, but under rules imposed in 2012 spectrum rights may only be sold via a public auction. The DoT has sought the TRAI’s opinion on whether government-owned entities are exempt from this rule and could be handed the frequencies via administrative allocation. The TRAI’s opinions on pricing, frequency bands and amount of spectrum to be allocated were also sought. BSNL has request 2100MHz spectrum in 19 of its 20 service areas – all except Rajasthan – whilst MTNL, which serves the remaining two circles, Mumbai and Delhi, has requested spectrum in the 2100MHz band for the former, and the 1800MHz range for the latter.