Pan India telecom operators IDEA Cellular, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) today expressed their concern over the TRAI recommendation to the six-fold increase in 2G spectrum prices.
Terming them as “Illogical, Arbitrary and Discriminatory” against the older telecom operators.
IDEA Cellular said in a statement that “We are dismayed by the continual flip-flops in policy formulation in the telecom sector, which betray a poor understanding of sector dynamics, as indeed of the immense contribution of the sector to the national well being.In the same breath, the principles of transparency and auction-based spectrum pricing are touted, whereas arbitrary and unreal administered numbers are sought to be portrayed as ‘market based’.
Even more curious is how total spectrum holdings are sought to be aggregated for some operators, but disaggregated for select others, never mind the loss to the exchequer or basic level playing field considerations.As a pioneering telco with sector investments of @ Rs. 34,000 Cr, we have only now wiped out losses accumulated over 15 years. We take pains to be a good corporate citizen.
Our sector unfortunately has seen many absurdities already. The goose that laid the golden egg of progress, is being led to slaughter. We can only hope that reason will prevail and a market driven mechanism will be allowed.
The 2nd largest Mobile Service operator Vodafone Essar stated that “The sector has already been impacted greatly by the illogical difference in treatment of GSM operators and so called dual technology operators, the 2G scam as reported in the media and the impact of the auction of (artificially scarce) 3G spectrum,””Vodafone Essar strongly disagrees with TRAI’s new set of recommendations which are flawed, illogical and discriminatory against the operators who were the first to invest deeply to build the sector,” it said.
While the largest GSM operator in the country Bharti Airtel expressed similar concerns and steted “The recommendations by TRAI goes against the stated principle of the Government to offer affordability, fairness and level playing field. There seem to be huge inconsistency in terms of the differences of prices in various circles, which defies logic,”
Indian Telecom Regulator TRAI today recommended fixing the price for 6.2 Mhz of pan-India start-up 2G spectrum at Rs 10,972.45 crore, more than six times the present cost of Rs 1,658 crore.
Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular and state-run BSNL and MTNL, hold the extra spectrum beyond 6.2 Mhz and the new recommendations would put a huge financial burden on these operators.