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BIF urges TRAI to relook at spectrum pricing, allocation norms

Industry think tank Broadband India Forum (BIF) has made a representation to the new chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) for review of norms around spectrum pricing and allocation, including the much coveted E&V bands, among other issues.

In a recent meeting with the new Trai chief PD Vaghela, BIF also discussed other key subjects including the possible methods for companies to make a reasonable return on investment in digital infrastructure, proliferation of public WiFi hotspot, satellite communication and virtual network operators.

“We are motivated by the patient hearing of our submissions by the Trai chief and believe that the officials will take policy decisions in the best interest of all stakeholders,” TV Ramachandran, president, BIF.

He added that BIF will seek another meeting with the authority next week for other agendas on its list.

The meeting comes soon after the Cellular Operators Authority of India (COAI), representing India’s three telecom companies Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, had presented its submissions to Vaghela last week.

For the past month, BIF and COAI have been fiercely fighting over the allocation of E and V band spectrum crucial for delivering high speed 5G services. Trai, in November 2015, recommended that both E-band (between 57-64 GHz) and V-band (71-76 and 81-86 GHz) should be opened with “light touch regulation” and allotment should be on first-come-first-served and “link to link basis.”

BIF, which represents Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple and Amazon had hailed Trai’s suggestions along with India’s internet service providers’ association.

However, telecom companies have pushed for auctioning these bands, fearing just allocating them may allow non-licensed companies a low cost, back door entry into providing 5G services.

Besides this, the policy forum has also pitched for reviewing the spectrum auction rules for reserve prices. Earlier in September, BIF had released a study saying the current framework is “out-of-line” with international norms as spectrum pricing practices in India are fraught with legacy issues. LookmyGadget

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