Telecom Commission approves spectrum holding limits

Telecom Commission approves spectrum holding limits

Telecom Commission approves spectrum holding limits

The Telecom Commission (TC) on Tuesday approved the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)'s recommendation to relax spectrum holding limits, which will ease the merger and acquisition process among telecom firms and sale of radio waves by debt-hit companies.

TC, the highest decision making body headed by Department of Telecom Secretary, agreed with the TRAI suggestion to lift the ceiling on spectrum held by mobile operators within a particular band. The regulator also suggested a 50% cap on combined radiowave holding in efficient bands like 700 MHz, 800 MHz and 900 MHz.

According to current rules, no mobile service provider can hold more than 25% spectrum in a circle and more than 50% in a frequency band.

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The Commission has also approved the Inter Ministerial Group (IMG)'s suggestion for extension of the time period for payment for spectrum bought in auctions by operators, to 16 years from the current 10 years.

The Commission's decision along with IMG recommendations on providing relief package, will be sent to the Union Cabinet for approval, a senior government official said.

The latest decision of TC would remove the hurdles for merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular. It will also benefit Reliance Jio to mop up more airwaves in the 850 MHz band from Reliance Communication.

Telecom industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) welcomed the decision. "We welcome the decision to increase the overall spectrum cap as it will facilitate mergers and acquisitions in the sector," said Rajan S Mathews, director general, COAI.

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