Telecom regulator TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has told the government that it cannot suggest a price for auction of spectrum in CDMA-band in the stipulated 15 days and the process needs to be started afresh if reserve price for such airwaves is to be set.
The TRAI had in September proposed a cut of up to 60 per cent in the minimum auction prices for mobile phone spectrum used by GSM technology players like Airtel and Vodafone, but recommended no auction of 800 MHz spectrum used by CDMA players.
The regulator was criticised for allegedly favouring GSM service providers and last week the Telecom Commission asked TRAI to recommend the reserve price for 800 MHz band within 15 days.
Sources said TRAI replied back saying its has responded in full on the original reference made to it and if the government wants it to suggest a price for 800 MHz spectrum, it should come as a fresh reference so that process can be started afresh.
TRAI in its reply to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said, “The Authority is of the opinion that the action on original reference is over and done with. There can be no continuing reference to that earlier reference. It is now for the central government to take a final decision.”
Last week, DoT explained TRAI that E-GSM band required vacation of spectrum by the Defence Ministry which is likely to take time and keeping unsold spectrum in the 800 Mhz band would result in forgone revenues for government.
TRAI, however, has said that the last week communication cannot be in continuation with earlier reference on which it has already given its recommendation and government needs to clarify if it is a fresh reference.
“The reference dated November 12, 2013 is a new reference and TRAI will be able to proceed with the matter if it is clarified and confirmed that this is fresh statutory reference seeking recommendation of the Authority,” TRAI said.
The regulator further slammed DoT for asking to send recommendation preferably within 15 days.
“There is no provision in the TRAI Act which enables the stipulation of time limits. There is also no provision which allows for a preference on time limits to be indicated by the DoT...Hence, it is clearly not appropriate for the DoT to presume that it can suggest a time limit, even as a preference” TRAI said.