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New telecom policy on Cabinet table in March

Trai issues discussion paper on spectrum auction

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The final version of the 2012, which will lay the roadmap for the development of the industry, will go for approval by the month end, the has said.

"The commission has broadly approved the National Telecom Policy. Now we will start the process of sending it to the Cabinet," Telecom Commission Chairman told PTI. “By the month end, we should be able to do so and expect approval by end of April.”

The Telecom Commission is the apex decision making body of the Department of Telecommunications.

The NTP 2012 aims at providing free roaming to telecom users and allowing them to retain that mobile number even outside their circles without paying extra. The new policy will allow telecom players to exit from the business under certain conditions.

In another development, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has issued a consultation paper on auction of spectrum, “on the basis of the comments received from stakeholders on the preconsultation paper and considering international practices”. It has given time till March 21 for written comments and March 28 for counter-comments on this paper.

The key issues raised are quantity of spectrum to be auctioned, liberalisation and refarming of spectrum in the 800/900 MHz bands, structure of auction, spectrum block size, eligibility for participating in the auction, reserve price, roll-out obligations, spectrum usage charges and trading.

The paper shows 60 MHz and 413.6 MHz of spectrum will be vacated in the 800 and 1,800 Mhz spectrum bands, respectively, from the cancellation of 122 licences in space by a Supreme Court order. However, most service areas do not have spectrum for even one new entrant. The newly prescribed limit on spectrum assigned to a service provider is a pair of 8 MHz and 5 MHz for GSM and CDMA technologies for all service areas except Delhi and Mumbai, where it will be 10MHz and 6.25 MHz paired spectrum.

In the paper, has put forward models that could be used for auction. It has asked for a model that can be used to determine the base price for auction.

Trai had earlier recommended that on a licence renewal, spectrum held by a licensee in the 900 MHz band be replaced by assignment of an equal amount in 1,800 MHz.

The former is capable of providing services more efficiently than spectrum in the 1,900 MHz band.

Most telecom operators whose licences were cancelled by the Supreme Court have asked for fixing it around Rs 1,658 crore, equivalent to the fee charged for allocation of a pan-India licence to entrants after 2001.

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