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Spectrum ball in govt court

New Delhi, Dec. 19: The panel to review the allocation of spectrum has failed to reach a decision on subscriber requirements for extra spectrum to GSM players because of differences among its members.

“In view of a sharp division among the members regarding this important issue (subscriber-linked criterion), the committee felt that this decision is best left to the government,” the panel said in its report.

On the basis of existing norms, GSM players have more subscribers than what they ought to have based on spectrum in their possession.

“Depending on the parameters assumed one can get widely varying numbers, including numbers higher than those obtained by the TEC (Telecom Engineering Centre) ... The committee is not in a position to recommend any specific numbers/criterion at this juncture. The government needs to take a decision in this regard,” the report said.

The report is an outcome of the protests of GSM players against the TEC’s recommendations of 4-15 times more subscribers for extra spectrum. These were more stringent than the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. The TEC’s mandate was to assess Trai’s criterion for extra spectrum.

According to the report, initial spectrum should be bundled with licences and auctions followed for giving extra spectrum.

It said the incremental allotment of spectrum may be reduced to 1MHz from 1.8-2.4MHz. For the auction of additional frequency, a combination of methods could be considered along with the subscriber-linked method.

In auctions, there could be a cap on additional spectrum to an operator.

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