12:18 pm - Friday 20 October 2017

Montek Singh Ahluwalia alerts government on refarming of airwaves

By Parvina Purkayastha - Fri Oct 26, 12:44 pm

A word of caution from Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia. He alerted the government on the issue refarming of spectrum in the more efficient 900 MHz band saying that it should take into account all the implications before taking a decision. He further advised the members of Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) for telecom headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram to seek guidance from telecom regulator TRAI.

In a blow to the operators like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea, the Telecom Commission on October 17 had proposed refarming of airwaves in the 900 MHz. This is in line with sector regulator TRAI’s recommendations.

This means the redistribution of the highly efficient airwaves in 900 MHz band through bidding. Reserve price for spectrum in the 900MHz band had not been fixed, though telecom regulator TRAI had suggested that reserve price should be twice that of the 1800 MHz spectrum.

The sector regulator TRAI’s recommendations on this issue has listed three possible execution strategies – reframe all airwaves held by incumbents in the 900 MHz band, or allow these mobile phone companies to retain either 2.5 MHz or 5 MHz of airwaves in this band.

Ahluwalia through the communication said that Telecom Commission while proposing refarming of airwaves never considered a detailed paper with full information indicating what is the best methodology for refarming, especially given the international experience so far.

He said that commission only decided to go by three options favoured the regulator and the department of telecommunications (DoT).

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