Telecom panel to meet today

NEW DELHI, JULY 12. A ``full'' meeting of the Telecom Commission, comprising secretaries drawn from other Central Ministries besides the six Secretary-rank officers in Sanchar Bhavan, will consider tomorrow the opening up of national long distance communications to competition amidst pulls and counter-pressures from various lobbies.

In case the Commission is unable to unanimously decide on one of the four courses open to it, the matter would have to go to the Union Cabinet. According to sources, the options under consideration are : (i) free and unfettered competition with no limit on companies; (ii) auction envisaging a revenue-sharing arrangement; (iii) auction based on entry fee quoted by companies; and, (iv) a mix of eligibility criteria like net worth and some amount of revenue-sharing.

All these options are backed by powerful lobbies. While the DoT and the TRAI want a limited number of players, a section of the industry is opposed to this arrangement and wants full and fair competition.