Telecom operators of India have strongly restated the need for the adoption of the same rules and same service for the allocation of spectrum to space broadband providers. They emphasised the fact that any move to award airwaves for free would be arbitrary and it is also necessary for the centre to consider the administrative allocation of the radio waves to the telcos. The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the Indian non-governmental industry body of telecom operators of India representing Jio, Airtel and Vi put forward its view on the same.
The Issue of Allocation of Airwaves
The Director-General of COAI, Lt. Gen. Dr SP Kochhar in a statement said that the association is firm on the fact that the spectrum should be treated similarly for anybody offering a similar service. He added that if an entity is not offering a similar service, you can treat it differently under legal jurisdictions or pronouncements. However, explaining the industry’s instance he said that if the same person is giving service to a subscriber, and another one is giving service by other means, but the service is the same, then it should be treated at par with each other in terms of policies and regulation.
He said that the telcos are entitled to a free spectrum if someone else is getting it for free as the service are the same. The issue of administrative allocation of airwaves for satellite-based communications or Satcom services has been ongoing for a while now. Terrestrial operators which include Jio, Airtel and Vi have been clashing with the space broadband providers such as OneWeb, and Tata’s Nelco.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is all set to submit its long-awaited recommendations regarding the working of the 5G spectrum auction and its pricing by next week. TRAI is supposed to address the issue of administrative allocation of airwaves and its recommendations will aid the telecom operators to figure out their 5G strategies going forward.
The current price of the 5G spectrum in the 3300 MHz to 3600 MHz bands priced at Rs 492 per MHz has been called extortionate by the telecom industry based on the recommendation by TRAI. The industry had called for a price cut by as much as 95% and the government has supported the call by stating that it wouldn’t think about making the price reasonable so that the services are available for users across the country.