The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Telecom titans meet, but fail to untie knot

New Delhi, Feb 21: The working group to resolve the telecom tangle set up by Union communications minister Arun Shourie has vindicated his belief that it may miss the March 1 deadline to arrive at a consensus.

The working group today decided to meet again on March 3 to continue discussions and arrive at a possible consensus. Today’s meeting failed to make any breakthrough on the two contentious issues of basic operators offering limited mobility services and the withdrawal of all cases pending before the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). Later, telecom secretary Vinod Vaish said, “Both the parties have shown an inclination to seek an adjournment at TDSAT where the case on limited mobility is to be heard on Monday.”

Today’s meeting was attended by Reliance chief Mukesh Ambani and S. Ramakrishnan of Tata Teleservices represented the basic operators. Cellular operators were represented by Rajan Mittal from Bharti, Asim Ghosh from Hutch and Rajeev Chandrashekhar from BPL Telecom. The government nominees meeting were Vaish and BSNL chairman and managing director Prithipal Singh.

Licence for cell operators

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) today gave its recommendations to the government on the offer fresh licences to cellular mobile service providers.

This is in response to a reference by the department of telecommunications (DoT) to Trai seeking recommendations on the issue.

In its recommendations, Trai recalled that the objectives of increasing competition, on the one hand, and improving the quality, coverage and price-efficiency of the service, on the other, will have to be achieved so that the larger objective of providing quality services at affordable prices is not jeopardised.

Trai also said the existing cellular operators had much less spectrum allocation than their counterparts in other countries.

The regulator also reiterated that it favoured open competition in the different segments of Indian telecom sector.

However, for cellular mobile services there has to be a clear view on the quantum of additional spectrum which could be allocated to GSM cellular cervices. Trai was of the opinion that the induction of additional mobile service providers in various service areas could be considered if there is adequate availability of spectrum for the existing service providers as well as for the new players, if permitted.

What is of utmost importance is that adequate quality of service is ensured in this fast growing segment of the market.

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