In the recently concluded auction, we witnessed the largest sale of spectrum across 4 frequency bands. A total of 8 operators participated in the auction and 7 managed to win some spectrum in some or the other circle. But spectrum crunch is an issue that has been plaguing the Indian telecom industry for years and as Mr. Rahul Khullar, Chairman of TRAI has pointed out that the total available spectrum for telecommunication is just 40% of what is available in Europe or 50% of what is available in China.
"If you compare country in Europe or rest of the world which are similar in size to Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh... actually the spectrum availability is less than 40 percent of what is available in the rest of the world, that is our one big problem," Khullar said while speaking at TRAI's consumer outreach programme.
Operators like MTS and Videocon who currently have spectrum in 9 and 7 circles respectively and did not participate in the recently concluded auction or Uninor which has spectrum in 7 circles and was unsuccessful in winning any fresh spectrum in the auction are left with no option but to look forward to spectrum sharing and trading to expand their operational footprint across the nation since fresh spectrum may not be made available by the government any time soon. Telecom secretary Mr. Rakesh Garg has declared that the spectrum sharing and trading guidelines will be released by the government in 3 months time.
"Spectrum sharing and trading guidelines are now one of key things in our agenda. The TRAI has already given its recommendations. In next three months we will be in position to give out spectrum sharing and trading guidelines," Garg told in an interview.
Spectrum sharing guidelines will allow telecom companies to share their utilised airwaves with other service providers in the same telecom circle. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), last year recommended sharing of all categories of telecom airwaves held by operators including spectrum allocated at the old price of Rs 1,658 crore or assigned without auction.The regulator also recommended to allow trading of the spectrum. As of now, only government is allowed to allocate spectrum to telecom firms through auctions. Once the trading is allowed, it is expected to increase the efficient use of spectrum by enabling telecom operators, who have a lower subscriber base or unutilised spectrum, to trade in it.
Keep reading TT for more updates on spectrum sharing and trading guidelines.