Regulators

TRAI should reconsider Spectrum Trading, says DoT

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NEW DELHI: A Department of Telecommunications (DoT) committee has for the present turned down any proposal to permit spectrum trading.

In a report to the Telecom Commission, this Committee has however admitted that this finds place in the National Telecom Policy (2012). It has said there is need for a more holistic view on the matter to prevent ‘some unintended consequences’.



It feels that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) should be asked to give a detailed recommendation in this regard. At present, only right-to-usage of spectrum is auctioned and the legal framework under which it can be treated as transferable and tradable in whole or part needs to be prepared, the Committee added.



According to the report, any Presidential Reference on this issue should be in conformity with the Supreme Court order in the 2G spectrum allocation case.



The Committee says there is need for assessment of market sale of spectrum. This would assume more importance in merger and acquisition (M&A) cases, for assessment of the fair value of spectrum, where the entire business might be taken over as a going concern along with the spectrum, without separate determination of the price. It should also have provisions to curb fly-by-night operators entering for only trading benefits.



Earlier, the DoT had sought TRAI’s views on the conditions and timing for allowing trading of what got through auction, the quantity for trading by an operator, revenue payable and the legal, regulatory and technical framework. This followed a recommendation by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia to Communications and Information Technology minister Kapil Sibal to allow trading of spectrum. The matter was also discussed in a meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on telecom headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram.



The DoT committee has said TRAI should reconsider sharing of spectrum. Guidelines are to be finalised for the sharing of spectrum in accordance with the TRAI suggestion on a spectrum management and licencing framework. However, the present recommendation for a flat spectrum usage charge would impact the previous recommendation, it felt.

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