Telecom lobby group Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) demanded that private service operators should be allowed to enter into spectrum sharing and trading pact with state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) and not just a “single” telco (Hinting at a tacit deal ongoing between BSNL and JIO) As reported by Economic times.
In an “urgent” letter to telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, the group that represents Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio said that private players be given ‘equal opportunity’ to participate and enter into such arrangements with BSNL which would create a level-playing field by giving a fair opportunity to private operators.
Mathews said “The exercise should be conducted in a fair, open and transparent manner so as BSNL could be benefited from a competitive commercial offering allowing public resources equally to all service providers” . Mathews’ comments come amid speculation that Jio, which has pan-India BWA spectrum for high-speed data services and is likely to debut 4G services in December this year, was in talks with the telecom department to leverage BSNL spectrum for second-generation (2G) voice telephony services.
Meanwhile, a Reliance Jio spokesperson said, “It is not true that we are in talks with BSNL for “exclusive ICR” and therefore the question of COAI seeking any intervention from the hon’ble minister cannot be correct.”
The government is yet to announce a policy for spectrum sharing and trading rules though there is an in-principle approval for the same from DoT’s highest policy-making body Telecom Commission. The matter will go to the Cabinet for final approval.