Regulator TRAI is solid on going forward with the discussion procedure, comprising open house meeting on auction of the spectrum efficiently turning down the demand of the industry for putting off the talk for the time being. Chairman of TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), RS Sharma claimed to the media that the watchdog is duty-bound to answer to issues referred to it for recommendations by the government, in this case on auction of the spectrum for pricing, various bands, and other modalities.
Established providers such as Idea Cellular and Bharti Airtel argue that there can be no case for holding auctions of the spectrum or even a consultation procedure in the current scenario where the sector, which is locked in a tariff battle, has been battered by high levies and falling revenues. “There is no inquiry of fragmenting,” Sharma claimed when asked whether the watchdog will agree to the demand of the operators not to go forward with the consultation procedure at for time being.
“Clearly, we will go forward with an open house talk. We will conclude the open house and give suggestions to the government as needed by them,” he claimed. Sharma additionally claimed that there was nothing incorrect in conducting a consultation procedure to recognize the opinions of different stakeholders as it highlighted transparency. “It (not permitting consultation) is like claiming do not speak up. That is not right. We are just asking stakeholders, what is incorrect with that?” he asked.
In its written letter to the TRAI consultation documents on auction of the spectrum, Bharti Airtel has claimed that an appropriate time for conducting the sale of spectrum might be the end of the current fiscal. Airtel has also challenged that the consultation procedure on pricing and auction of spectrum must be started between September 2018 & December 2018, when providers are better positioned to assess their upcoming needs.
Idea, as well, has claimed that the timing for the consultation is unsuitable and that there is no business case for acquirement of any additional spectrum, taking into consideration the present industry case of “hyper competition” and “below cost pricing.”