New Delhi, Sept. 6: Trai will recommend to the government to open up spectrum trading between telecom players, encouraging the efficient use of limited airwaves.
The government had asked the regulator on the feasibility of trading and sought details on issues such as the extent of spectrum for trading, the price and the government’s share.
The State Bank of India, which took part in the Trai consultations, has suggested trading on bourses, or a common trading platform, to ensure transparency and efficient utilisation.
SBI’s note says: “The trading can be by way of outright sale as well as on a short/long-term lease basis and standardised products may be created in this regard. This shall ensure that unutilised spectrum with various players shall be better used by operators who are facing a shortage of the same.”
The department of telecom (DoT) had sought Trai’s opinion a month ago after the Planning Commission supported trading.
Initially, it had opposed trading but approached the regulator after the Prime Minister’s Office intervened.
The concept of “spectrum trading”, if allowed, will enable operators with spare radiowaves to sell or rent their surplus to other operators who are hard-pressed to service their customers, leading to a more efficient use of radiowaves.
“Since spectrum is a scarce resource, priority will be on releasing it from less efficient use and shift to a more efficient use. Eventually, it should move towards a regime that permits spectrum trading on a platform and create a market driven mechanism for its efficient use,” the Planning Commission had said in the 12th Five Year Plan document.
Current market mechanisms for spectrum assignment (like auctions), the plan panel said, do not allow licence holders the flexibility to respond quickly to changes in demand and technology, resulting in chunks of spectrum lying underutilised and creating an artificial scarcity.
It said Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the European Union had permitted trading in the secondary market.
The plan panel added that a secondary market for trading was necessary that required an “extensive automated infrastructure in the form of an exchange/online registry, which entails considerable regulatory costs”.