Welcoming the draft National Telecom Policy (NTP), industry players on Monday expressed confidence that spectrum would be made available at affordable price, and levies would be rationalised on a par with other countries.

The draft aims at making available 500 MHz of spectrum by 2020. Also, it plans to do away with roaming charges and allow mobile number portability across the country.

“NTP, 2011, released by the Minister of Communications and IT Kapil Sibal is a welcome step in the right direction and signals the government's strong focus on future growth areas such as broadband and convergence,” said Bharti Airtel's spokesperson. He said the proposal to provide more spectrum, allowing its sharing and allocating it through transparent market-based processes were progressive policy decisions, which would provide the much needed capacity augmentation to this vital sector.

Bharti also welcomed the proposal to give the infrastructure status to the telecom sector and rationalisation of taxes and levies, saying that they would provide the much needed relief to the sector.

Meanwhile, CDMA operators' lobby group — Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) — Secretary General S. C. Khanna said, “We are confident that the DoT will make available at affordable price optimum quantity of spectrum, rationalise levies to bring them down to those in other countries.”

AUSPI welcomed implementation of initiatives such as abolition of roaming charges, one nation full mobile number portability, making available broadband in villages, setting up of Telecom Finance Corporation and recognition of telecom as infrastructure sector as well as merger and acquisition initiatives.

CDMA player Sistema Shyam Telecom also welcomed the draft. “The strong focus to make affordable and reliable broadband available on demand by, 2015, along with one nation, one license regime is a welcome move,” SSTL President and CEO Vsevolod Rozanov said. He added that the release of policy details specific to the issues like delinking of spectrum and telecom licence, allowing of spectrum trading, pooling and sharing as well as new M&A guidelines should be watched out for.

Leading GSM player Vodafone declined to comment saying they needed to go through the draft first, while RCom was not available for comment.

Idea Cellular said it would actively participate in the consultation process as the country formulated the new policy.

“For us, the government's intention to bring out an exit policy that allows non-serious operators to vacate spectrum; provision for spectrum sharing and according infrastructure status to telecom are clear highlights of the draft NTP,” Uninor Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Rajiv Bawa said. Uninor was hopeful that the policy would create a positive and progressive environment that encouraged competition and catalysed growth in the next decade, he added.

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