DDC To Meet On July 24 To Discuss Reserve Auction Price, Penalty In Reliance Jio Interconnect Case

The digital communications commission (DCC) is scheduled to meet on July 24 to deliberate on imposition of penalty on incumbent operators for not providing enough interconnect points to Reliance Jio in 2016 when it had commenced operations, and reserve price for the next round of auctions.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has reiterated its stand on both the issues after the DCC had referred both the matters back to it after its earlier meeting. The regulator had in October 2016 recommended that a fine of Rs 50 crore be levied on Bharti Airtel and Vodafone each in 21 circles, while a similar amount be levied on Idea Cellular in 19 circles. Thus, the penalty for Bharti and Vodafone was Rs 1,050 each while for Idea it was Rs 950 crore.

On June 17 this year, the DCC, while approving the Trai proposal for imposing penalty on operators, had asked the regulator to consider revising the quantum as the sector is under a financial stress. The regulator, however, stuck to its stand.

Similarly, the regulator stuck to its recommendation on the reserve price of spectrum, including 5G band. Last month, amid an industry disquiet over the pricing of spectrum, DCC had decided to ask Trai to reconsider its spectrum recommendations, to ensure competition and greater participation of larger set of players in auctions slated for 2019.

However, in its detailed response, Trai said it had considered all the relevant factors, including the methodology, assumptions, developments between the spectrum auction in 2016 and its suggestions of August 1, 2018, and the rationale for spectrum valuation and reserve price while giving its recommendations.

Trai had in August 2018 recommended auction of about 8,644 MHz of spectrum across bands at an estimated total base price of `4.9 lakh crore, but the financially-stressed industry that is reeling under high debt had argued that proposed prices are unaffordable and exorbitant.―Financial Express

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