More reports on: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
DoT, TRAI at odds over CDMA auction base price news
14 December 2013

With the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India turning a deaf ear to its previous requests, the Department of Telecommunications has approached the sector regulator for the fourth time in six months seeking its recommendations on the base price for auction of CDMA spectrum, according to a PTI report.

"DoT has sent a fresh reference to TRAI yesterday (Thursday) for its recommendation on 800 Mhz (CDMA) band spectrum base price," the news agency cited official sources as saying.

The regulator in September did not favour auction of CDMA spectrum and recommended that the DoT should explore using part of these airwaves for E-GSM services.

The DoT in its reference back to TRAI in October had asked for CDMA spectrum base price as sought by the empowered group of ministers on telecom, headed by finance minister P Chidambaram.

However, the regulator maintained its earlier stand.

TRAI's views were discussed by the inter-ministerial Telecom Commission in its meetings on 3 October and 6 November. After examining Trai's suggestions, the panel asked the DoT to seek base price of CDMA spectrum from the regulator again.

The DoT on 12 November informed TRAI about the commission's TC decision and explained that E-GSM band required vacating of spectrum by the defence ministry, which is likely to take time. In this scenario, keeping unsold spectrum in the 800 Mhz band would result in loss of revenue for the government.

The DoT had said that TRAI should suggest a base price preferably within 15 days for CDMA spectrum so that it can be discussed and put for auction in January 2014.

The regulator wrote a strongly-worded letter back to the DoT saying, according to the report, "There is no provision in the TRAI Act which enables the stipulation of time limits.

"There is also no provision which allows for a preference on time limits to be indicated by the DoT. Hence, it is clearly not appropriate for the DoT to presume that it can suggest a time limit, even as a preference."

The EGoM in its meeting on 22 November again asked the DoT to approach TRAI afresh for CDMA spectrum base price so that it can be put for auction.

The cabinet in its 9 December meeting is also learnt to have directed the telecom ministry to decide on CDMA spectrum base price expeditiously.

The DoT had on Thursday come out with the schedule for GSM spectrum auction. However, CDMA auction is dependent on TRAI's recommendations.

Pure CDMA operator Sistema Shyam Teleservices, which operates under MTS brand name, has been demanding additional airwaves to expand its services. It has alleged that TRAI is favouring GSM players, who have been demanding 10 Mhz of airwaves from this frequency band.

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DoT, TRAI at odds over CDMA auction base price