Cellular operators call for auctioning entire spectrum, question delay

Cellular operators call for auctioning entire spectrum, question delay
Telecom industry body COAI said on Friday that the government should auction the entire spectrum available with it at a realistic reserve price as early as possible for quick roll-out of broadband services.

"TRAI has said that we will need at least 500 Mhz of spectrum to meet the demand that we have. What we are suggesting is that it is time that we put all of the spectrum for auction," COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews said at the LTE India 2013 event here.

The Cellular Operators Association of India DG said "pricing is an important criteria and we are hoping that government will refer this matter whole back to TRAI for their input".

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has also written to Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal to refer back spectrum pricing matter to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Mathews pointed out to a Supreme Court order which had asked the government to put the entire 2G spectrum, vacated by the cancellation of 122 telecom licences, for bidding.

The government had announced in February that it will conduct the third round of spectrum auction to comply with the apex court order but has not announced any further details.

"Under supreme court order we will be able to put up all spectrum in 1800 Mhz band. We are dithering. Why is it taking too long?" Mathews said.

He said the government should get 15 Mhz of spectrum released from the Defence that can be used for 3G services.

"We have at least 15 Mhz of spectrum in 2.1 Ghz spectrum is currently available with defence forces. We are suggesting that to come back. That we will help 3G bandwidth issue that we are facing," Mathews said.

Telecom and defence ministries have already entered into an agreement for the vacation of this 15 Mhz spectrum after BSNL completes fibre optic network for the forces.

COAI DG said the government should also auction 700 Mhz, considered as the most efficient frequency spot for 4G services at present, as soon as possible.

"Clearly, 700 Mhz is available. Our suggestion at this point is put up all of spectrum for auction, put a realistic reserve price...putting it up early (for auction) as possible is good opportunity for our equipment manufacturers to get on the bandwagon if you are efficient manufacturers," he said.

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