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TRAI seeks power to grant telecom licences

Sandeep Joshi
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It recommends 3 levels in the framework of unified licence

With the Centre yet to finalise the new telecom policy, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), on Monday, said it should be given the task of granting telecom licences, even as the regulator recommended three levels of unified licence for the telecom sector.

“In the new licensing regime, as the spectrum has been delinked from the licence, it has been recommended that TRAI should be entrusted with the function of granting all types of unified licences,” the telecom sector regulator said while issuing its recommendations on ‘Guidelines for unified licence/class licence and migration of existing licences'.

Similarly, in the framework of unified licence, TRAI has recommended that there will be three levels — national level, service area level and district level. “One time non-refundable entry fee for unified licence shall be (a) Rs.15 crore for national level unified licence; (b) Rs.1 crore for each service area level unified licence except for Jammu & Kashmir and North East Service areas where the entry fee will be Rs.50 lakh each, and (c) Rs.10 lakh for each district level unified licence,” it said in its recommendations forwarded to the Department of Telecommunications.

Notably, in its recommendations on “Spectrum management and licensing framework,” issued in mid-2010, TRAI had recommended that all future licences should be unified licences and that spectrum be delinked from the licence. This was accepted by DoT, which had then asked the regulator for detailed guidelines on the new licensing regime. After discussing with telecom companies and other stakeholders, TRAI has now forwarded its final recommendations that will shape the future course of the Indian telecom sector.

Earlier, DoT used to issue separate licences for separate services, and in case of mobile services, spectrum came bundled with licences. It was in this licence and spectrum allocation process in 2008, massive 2G scam to the tune of over Rs.1.76-lakh crore was allegedly committed under the regime of then Telecom Minister A. Raja. Now, DoT has not only made licence technology neutral but has also delinked it from spectrum; which means that a company can take a licence and is free to offer any service. And for acquiring spectrum, a market-driven mechanism has to be followed.

PTI reports:

Meanwhile, Telecom Secretary R. Chandrashekhar told PTI that DoT would try and speed up the new licensing regime in less than three months. “In normal course, it (approval) takes around three months but we will try to speed up.”

Once approved, telecom companies can apply for telecom licences without owning spectrum and can perform businesses that can be carried out without using spectrum.


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