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TRAI issues directions to prevent TSPs from blocking spectrum

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NEW DELHI: Taking note of the huge wastage due to blocked spectrum causing inconvenience to consumers, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has directed that a Unified Access Service (UAS) licensee must surrender such spectrum immediately upon closure of wireless access services if he decides to close down its wireless access services which were being provided through the administratively assigned spectrum.

In its directions issued today related to closure of access services, TRAI says a UAS licensee should be permitted to discontinue any of the services, permitted under the scope of licence without the need to surrender the licence.

In case of closure of access services through any technology in the entire service area or a part of it, the TSP should be mandated to give a 60 days notice to the licensor and TRAI and 30 days notice to its effected subscribers, clearly stating the options available to the subscribers, including that of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) facility.

The Authority has recommended various time-lines to be followed by Department of Telecom/WPC and the Licensee in the spectrum trading process. These timelines will bring greater clarity and certainty in the entire process of spectrum trading. If the entire spectrum in all bands is being sold by a licensee and will result in discontinuation of services, recommended timelines will remove uncertainties and facilitate the TSPs to given 60 days notice to DoT/TRAI and 30 days notice to its subscribers.

If a subscriber wants to switch from one technology to other, within the same TSP, the same should not come under the definition MNP.  

At the outset, TRAI has said that due to adoption of market based spectrum management, the continuance of access service is now no longer assured. Recently, there have been cases where due to reasons such as licensee failing to re-acquire its spectrum holding in a band on expiry of its license validity period; change of technology deployed by licensee; sale of entire spectrum holding through spectrum trading; roaming arrangement coming to an end; etc., there has been closure of access services being provided by the licensee. As a result subscribers had to face lot of inconveniences.

The directions are aimed at ensuring that subscribers are not put to undue hardships due to closure of access services.

The Authority had suo-motu issued a Consultation Paper on "Issues related to closure of Access Services" on 30 November 2016 seeking the comments of the stakeholders and an Open House Discussion was held on 28 April 2017 at New Delhi.

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