Telecom regulator Trai will next year initiate an in-depth consultation on general principles related to spectrum including its valuation methodology, Chairman R S Sharma said today. Sharma – who met telcos including Vodafone Idea, Reliance Jio and Airtel on issues to be prioritised for 2019 – asserted that the upcoming deliberations would not have any bearing on the past recommendations of Trai on the auction of radio waves.
“We have received suggestions on spectrum-related issues, policy relating to spectrum auctions, reserve price valuation methodology, spectrum leasing, surrendering, trading…all these things will be deliberated upon. We will bring a consultation paper which will have all spectrum-related issues,” Sharma told reporters of PTI.
Other issues that will be taken up by the regulator next year include fiberisation, redesigning of Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) and designing of broadband readiness index for states — a concept enshrined in the National Digital Communications Policy.
The meeting was attended by Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio as well as state-owned firms BSNL and MTNL. “The deliberations assume significance because now we have a new digital communications policy in place. So there are a lot of statements in the policy which will require deliberations. We wanted to consult with the telecom service providers to figure out their viewpoint on priority areas,” Sharma said.
The industry — which is not generating enough cash to even service loans — also flagged issues around high levies and GST refunds during the meeting on Wednesday.
The telecom sector has been battered by falling tariffs, eroding profitability, and mounting debt in the face of stiff competition triggered by disruptive offerings of Reliance Jio, owned by Mukesh Ambani. The industry has sought urgent relief measures for the troubled telecom sector, entailing debt restructuring, cut in levies like licence fee and spectrum charges, and release of GST input tax credit locked up with the government.