Union Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal on Tuesday met telecom honchos and discussed various contentious issues, including pricing and allocation of spectrum as the government moves towards finalisation of the new telecom policy. “All the operators conveyed their views on various issues which are also a part of regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI's) recommendations on ‘Spectrum pricing and framework'. The Minister will take a final call on the Telecom Commission's suggestions soon,” Department of Telecom Secretary R. Chandrasekhar told journalists after the meeting.
Those who met Mr. Sibal included Bharti Airtel's Chairman and Managing Director Sunil Mittal, Reliance Communications Chairman Anil Ambani, Vodafone India's CEO Marten Pieters and Idea Cellular Managing Director Himanshu Kapania. These top telecom sector leaders had also met the Minister in November last year on similar issues and other challenges being faced by the sector.
The telecom companies, particularly the old players, are concerned over the pricing of spectrum they are holding beyond their contractual obligation. Last year, the Telecom Commission, the DoT's decision-making body, had recommended levy a one-time charge for extra spectrum beyond the contracted limit of 4.4 MHz for GSM players and 2.5 MHz for CDMA operators, which could fetch the government around Rs.17,000 crore. The Commission has also cleared a uniform licence fee of 8 per cent as against the current rate of 6-10 per cent, while the industry has been demanding a lower licence fee.