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According to sources, the Mukesh Ambani-owned Jio feels the 50 per cent in-band cap should be done away with, as technology has become spectrum-agnostic. Sunil Bharti Mittal's firm, on the other hand, wants the cap to stay, so that no operator gains dominance in holding of airwaves in a particular band. However, Airtel also wants the overall cap of 25 per cent to be increased to 33 per cent, as some of the operators have a market share of 30-35 per cent but have to operate at a lower level due to capping. While Jio wants the cap to stay, the sources added.
Airtel and Jio have sent their views to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). Which, through a closed consultation process, had asked operators for views on spectrum caps. The opinions sent by others could not be verified.
Spectrum cap is the limit of airwaves a telecom operator can hold for providing services. The cap is 50 per cent in a particular spectrum band and 25 per cent of the overall spectrum assigned in a telecom circle to an operator.
The inter-ministerial group formed to address financial stress in the telecom sector had recommended the spectrum cap limit be revised. The idea was that this would facilitate exits for loss-making companies. Based on the report, the department of telecommunications had asked Trai to give its view.
Airtel had a similar stand in response to Trai's consultation paper on valuation and reserve price of spectrum in 2015, while Jio had favoured removal of the spectrum band cap. Sunil Mittal had also sought to relax the spectrum holding limit of 25 per cent. In 2015, he'd said a 50 per cent in-band spectrum cap was a good check, as nobody wants all the spectrum in one operator's hands.
He, however, said the overall cap of 25 per cent should be relaxed, as there were operators having 35-40 per cent market share but forced to operate at a lower level due to capping.
"The intra-band spectrum cap of 50 per cent should be continued for each band...Acceptance of any proposal to combine the spectrum bands for calculation of caps would lead to concentration of the spectrum in those bands, especially in the 800 MHz and 2300 MHz bands with one operator, and therefore, will skew the market in favour of one operator," Airtel had said.
- Jio feels the 50% in-band cap should be done away with
- Airtel wants the cap to stay
- Airtel also wants the overall cap of 25% to be increased to 33%
- Jio wants the 25% cap to stay