Telecom Commission, the highest policy-making body of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), will meet today to discuss the issue of spectrum caps within a licensed circle.
According to sources, an internal DoT committee has recommended retaining the existing caps. The committee’s report will now be placed before the Telecom Commission for a final decision. The Commission is expected to refer the matter back to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) for further deliberations.
According to existing rules, a telecom operator cannot hold more than 25 per cent of spectrum assigned to all companies in a particular circle, or more than 50 per cent of spectrum assigned to all firms in a particular frequency band. Trai had also recommended that instead of considering the entire shared spectrum as total airwave holding of an operator, only 50 per cent of the spectrum held by other licencees in the band being shared should be taken as the additional spectrum held by the telco concerned.
After the announcement of sharing and trading norms a few months ago, operators had urged the government to increase the cap to at least 30 per cent of total spectrum assigned to all operators in a circle, and 60 per cent of total spectrum assigned in a particular band.
The caps mainly prohibit any sharing or trading among operators with large spectrum holdings. Spectrum sharing allows telecom players to pool or share their spectrum with one another; trading means buying out spectrum of another telecom operator.
Earlier, Bharti Airtel chief executive Gopal Vittal had said the government should relax spectrum caps to enable actual consolidation in the sector.
According to experts, trading norms can bring the much-needed consolidation in the sector if caps are relaxed. Sharing and trading norms will improve quality of services, too. It will also give smaller players an exit route.