The issue of spectrum refarming which may lead to telecom operators like Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular bearing high costs will be placed before the next meeting of Empowered Group of Ministers.
According to a study, the change in frequency for transmitting mobile signals could cost the telecom firms over Rs. one lakh crore cumulatively.
“The matter is going to EGoM. The EGoM is slated to meet very soon,” Law and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said.
Telecom operators mainly Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular have opposed spectrum refarming as they will need to vacate 900 megahertz frequency band, in which cost of providing service is less compared to other frequency bands, or pay high price for continuing services in the band.
Government has asked telecom operators to move to 2G frequency band of 1800 Mhz band to continue services after their licence terms are over. Airtel, Vodafone and Loop Mobile are among the first lot of players whose licence in couple of circles will expire in 2014. As per the present norms they will have to secure airwaves by participating in auction.
“We are now going to proceed with further auctions, both of the 900 Mhz and 1800 Mhz band. That should happen very soon,” Mr. Sibal said.
Sector regulator TRAI has recommended fixing reserve price which is around 2 times higher for 900 Mhz band compared to 1800 Mhz.
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia had written to Mr. Sibal in April for referring the matter back to TRAI for new reserve price. The telecom Ministry is yet to send the matter to the regulator.