Operators want total spectrum available to be auctioned

March 22nd, 2012 - 9:03 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 22 (IANS) The government should auction the entire amount of spectrum, including the spectrum to be made available after the cancellation of 2G licences and the one likely to be vacated by the defence forces, to benefit end-users, telecom service providers said Thursday.

But the old and new players differed over who should participate and what should be the reserve price in the upcoming auction.

Bharti Airtel said no additional spectrum had been allocated in the past few years despite the phenomenal growth in subscriber base and this had impacted the quality of service adversely.

“There is no reason to reserve spectrum when there is sufficient demand in the market and operators are ready to pay the market determined price,” Bharti Airtel said, responding to the telecom regulator TRAI’s consultation paper on 2G spectrum auction.

“Moreover, artificial scarcity of the spectrum will lead to inflated value of spectrum, which would ultimately be passed onto the customers which is against the very objectives of the National Telecom Policy,” it added.

Tata Teleservices said unused spectrum did not bring any benefit to society, consumers or the government.

“Spectrum allocated to the mobile industry will bring cheaper voice and data services to more people, increase productivity and support other industries,” it said.

Vodafone said 211 MHz spectrum was lying unutilised with the department of telecom (DoT) for more than a year. “By not allocating this resource in a timely manner, the government has already delayed the opportunity to put this spectrum to use and contribute to the benefit of society.”

Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL), which stands to lose 21 licences following the Supreme Court ruling, said the forthcoming auction should be carried out in such a way that it did not create monopolization and subsequent hoarding of spectrum by the incumbent operators.

According to SSTL, that if all players are allowed to bid then it would unfairly benefit few operators who have been allocated spectrum based on the subscriber-linked criteria.

It said the price should be determined per MHz of spectrum in different bands such as 700, 800, 900 and 1800 MHz bands.

However Airtel said that established operators should be allowed for bidding. “No attempt should be made to scuttle the claim of worthy applicants.”

Airtel said the auction price derived in 2001 and duly indexed with SBI PLR (prime lending rate) Rs.620.48 crore per MHz may be used as the reserve price of spectrum for 1800 MHz band. For 700, 800 and 900 MHz bands, the reserve price should be fixed at 1.5 times of the reserve price for 1800 MHz.

Idea Cellular said the reserve price should be fixed at Rs.1,658 crore. “If the reserve price is set at any different level to existing price discovered for 1800 MHz then it will not meet the objective of equality and level-playing field for all participants.”

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