Idea,Vodafone join chorus against Trai's spectrum proposals

In a letter to Telecom Secretary P J Thomas, Idea said the recommendations contain legal and technological infirmities and will have the effect of keeping the sector mired in the morass of vested interests which have been the bane of the sector.

It said the government expert committee report, which was the reference subject for TRAI, had stated its objective of transition to a market-based mechanism of spectrum pricing from a common and control based one.

"If this were to be so, then there is a serious question as to why the 2100 Mhz and 2300 Mhz spectrum is at all currently being auctioned at unbelievable prices in an environment of contrived scarcity," the letter said.

Vodafone's Resident Director (Regulatory Affairs & Government Relations) T V Ramachandran today met TRAI Chairman J S Sarma to convey the company's objections to the spectrum proposals.

When contacted Ramachandran declined to comment. Last week, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) proposed a one-time fee for GSM operators holding over 6.2 MHz of 2G airwaves. If implemented, operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea will have to pay an additional amount for the remaining licence period.

The pricing has been linked to the current price of 3G spectrum (from 6.2-8 Mhz) and thereafter 1.3 times the 3G spectrum price (8-10Mhz).

Bharti, Vodafone and BSNL hold 10 MHz spectrum in certain key circles, while Idea holds up to 8 MHz.

In its letter Idea said, "In our assessment, a cut-and-paste job on the recommendations will not work, as a coherent architectural framework is essential," it said.

"It is apprehended that the Trai recommendations, if accepted, will lead to many investors rethinking their business plans and prospective investments in Indian telecom.

This will place a critical and performing industry in jeopardy and seriously undermine the goal of extending telecom and mobile broadband services to the poorest across the country," Ramachandran had said in a letter to Communications Minister A Raja.

TRAI proposals which has been submitted to the Department of Telecom lastweek can only be made law with DoT's approval.

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