Do not cut spectrum already allocated to TSPs if more needed for Defence or non-commercial purposes: TRAI

NEW DELHI: Noting that only 1800 MHz spectrum is likely to be affected for diversion for Defence or non-commercial use, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has said no TSP should be asked to surrender any spectrum, which it already holds if a level playing field amongst TSPs has to be ensured.

In a clarification to the Department of Telecom, TRAI reiterated that the same spectrum cap may be made applicable for all the TSPs in a particular local service area (LSA).

Responding to a letter from the DoT, the Authority said, “Even in case of 1800 MHz also, after the harmonisation exercise with the Defence, additional spectrum will be made available for commercial usages, as Defence has been occupying more than 20 MHz of bandwidth agreed as per Memorandum of Understanding between DoT and the Ministry of Defence. Therefore, the situation, as raised by DoT, is unlikely to arise.”

This was particularly so in view of the fact that Defence band had already been notified and it was unlikely that any spectrum that was hitherto assigned for commercial use will be assigned for non-commercial use. In the case of 1800 MHz band, frequency harmonisation is required to be taken place amongst TSPs and Defence, implying that Defence and commercial chunk of spectrum are placed in their respective allotted slots.

In its Recommendations "Valuation and Reserve Price of Spectrum in 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz bands" dated 27 January, 2016, the Authority has recommended that DoT should ensure that this exercise gets completed before the next auction. It is also mentioned that after completion of this exercise it is expected that additional spectrum of about 200 MHz will be made available for assignment for commercial use.

There is no other spectrum band where any rearrangement of spectrum with Defence is immediately foreseen.

In its letter, DoT had sought views of TRAI on modalities to operate two different spectrum caps - one declared at the time of auction and other published as soon as some spectrum is assigned for non-commercial use; and whether existing spectrum holding of operators should be protected as an exception consequent to reduction in band as well as overall cap due to assignment of spectrum for non-commercial use after the auction.

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