Under pressure from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and the telecommunications ministry, the Department of Telecommunications has agreed to wait till end-November for TRAI to give its recommendations on the allocation of 2G spectrum.
Earlier, TRAI rejected a DoT advice that its recommendations had to legally be given within 60 days of the government referring an issue to the regulator. In a letter on 7 July, DoT had asked TRAI to give its recommendations on the report of a committee set up for allocation of access spectrum and pricing.
DoT had asked TRAI to reconsider its earlier recommendations, where it had said that there should not be a cap on the number of telcos that are allowed to offer telecom services in a circle. The regulator had replied that it could not look at the issue in isolation, adding that it would issue its recommendations by November end.
Communications minister A Raja has reportedly endorsed TRAI's stand.
The report of the committee in May recommended sweeping changes in 2G spectrum pricing, suggesting it be auctioned instead of being given on the basis of subscriber addition. If accepted, this will fundamentally change the way spectrum has been allocated to operators, and bring it in line with the 3G policy.
TRAI's reply to DoT said it should be aware that any recommendation could legally come into play only after consultation with all stakeholders. As the issues are so complex and would have far-reaching consequences for the future of telecommunications, elaborate consultation was required.
TRAI also recalled that it had, on 4 August, told DoT that the issue of capping the number of access providers in terms of pending applications for grant of UASL licences was linked to the issue of 2G spectrum allocation. Therefore, it intended to send a consolidated recommendation covering all the issues.