More reports on: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
Urgent measures needed to revive telecom: TRAI chief news
03 August 2013

Rahul KhullarThe chief of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Rahul Khullar, has said that it is imperative to resolve licencing issues and create clarity in mergers and acquisitions guidelines.

"Consolidation is the name of the game. But our M&A guidelines are simply not in place. Trading of spectrum for some reason has been treated as a holy cow. Everybody is buying spectrum on auction - why do you don't let them trade. These are issues you need to take decision," he said.

Khullar also slammed the present penalty regime. "This knee jerk response of Rs50 crore per fine multiplied by 22 circles ... this is absurd what we are doing," he said.

He said that to strike a balance, the entire spectrum pricing issue should be revisited.

"I think the entire paradigm on the pricing on spectrum has to be revisited. We have to strike some balance somewhere, you can't carry on like this," Khullar added.

Further, he backed the 3G intra-circle roaming pacts between telecom operators, an issue which is irritating the revenue-greedy government.

Speaking at an industry conference organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Khullar also sought lower reserve prices for bandwidth during auctions, and slammed the hefty fines levied on the operators for any lapse.

"If you simply do not have enough 3G spectrum to give everybody throughout the country, then can we actually carry on with this regime, where you will not make more spectrum available and yet proscribe ICR (roaming arrangements)?" he asked.

"This is a Catch-22 situation. How is it (blocking ICR) a solution?"

In yet another comment that echoed the industry's demands, Khullar said spectrum trading "was being treated as a holy cow".

He argued that since a company has to buy spectrum independent of licence, it can buy airwaves from another company as well, but admitted the market was not mature to begin sharing of spectrum.

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Urgent measures needed to revive telecom: TRAI chief