Vodafone, TTSL and Airtel Opposed TRAI’s 2G Spectrum Recommendations

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India’s GSM and CDMA operators including Tata Teleservices (TTSL), Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar strongly opposed and slammed Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)’s recommendation to charge incumbents telecom operators a one time fee for holding 2G spectrum beyond 6.2 Mhz.

TRAI has proposed introducing a uniform rate of 6% as annual licence fee component of total adjusted gross revenues from 2014.Presently operators pay in the range of 6 % to 10% as licence fees.

Tata Teleservices Ltd (TTSL) said TRAI’s recommendations are shocking and it has completely ignored our status as a dual-technology holder, and that TTSL should have been given precedence over those who have already received minimum start-up spectrum of 4.4 MHz and now have been recommended to get 6.2 MHz. It is important for TTSL to get level playing field vis-a-vis other dual-technology holders who got spectrum, especially as TTSL has already been waiting for more than 30 months for the minimum start-up spectrum across various Circles, including Delhi . We hope this will be rectified by the authorities soon and that our long wait for minimum start-up spectrum will not be pushed further behind.

India 2nd largest GSM Mobile service operator Vodafone Essar said “it was deeply concerned that Trai had deviated from a forward looking spectrum reform framework recommended earlier by DOT’s Expert Committee. While the DoT Committee recommended a forward looking and coherent set of proposals, the Trai recommendations have cherry picked dozens of incompatible elements and resulted in a set of proposals which are opaque, illogical and discriminatory.”

According to Mr Marten Pieters, Managing Director and CEO, Vodafone Essar, “The TRAI recommendations are full of even more charges, even more opaque spectrum allocation mechanisms and further complications. The telecom industry has seen very little revenue growth in the last six quarters, and has been impacted by unprecedented price wars. Against this context, it is extraordinary that it is now proposed that the industry should pay additional unjustified fees to be able to simply do what it is supposed to do deliver affordable quality communication services to Indian citizens.”

Bharti Airtel opposed the TRAI’s proposal on spectrum charges and stated “The recommendations are shocking, arbitrary and retrograde. “They overturn all existing policies of DoT for the last 15 years, recommendations made by various government committees and even TRAI’s own earlier recommendations. Besides, these are against all existing global norms for spectrum allocation and efficiency. It seems that the recommendations are designed to punish efficient and performing operators like us for contributing to the growth of Indian telecom sector and are instead tailor made to benefit select operators whose contribution to telecom growth and government revenues have been negligible.”

Tata Teleservices  also said in a statement that “We strongly feel that the provisions in regard to a level playing field on the 2G spectrum for GSM and CDMA could have been bolder, vis-a-vis those holding spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz free of cost for so long, as also TRAI could have recommended more farrness with regard to policy recommendations on the priority listfor spectrum allocation.”

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