The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has found several shortcomings in the Department of Telecommunication’s (DoT) spectrum management policy which has resulted in losses to the Union government’s exchequer.
According to the report submitted to the Parliament on Tuesday noted that allocation of a set of spectrum in 2015 was done on a first-cum-first-served (FCFS) basis, in contradiction to the recommendations of a committee, even as 101 applications for microwave (MW) spectrum were pending with the government.
“In contravention of the Committee’s recommendations, allocation of ‘MW Access’ (microwave access) spectrum had been done on ‘First Come First Serve’ (FCFS) basis to date as was being done for 2G license or ‘Access Spectrum’ till 2009. This was despite the fact that it was used for providing public commercial services and ‘MW Access’ spectrum was allotted for the entire service area (first carrier) and or at least for some cities, as being done in case of access services spectrum (2G/3G/4G spectrum).
It was also found that allotment of MWA to Access Service providers was withheld by DoT since June 2010 and allotment against only one application was made in December 2015. There were 101 applications pending till November 2016 for allotment of MWA,” the 125-page report said.
The MW access is provided to telecom service providers for mobile services.
The Telecom Department had constituted a committee in December 2012 to look into the allotment of spectrum in various categories of spectrum users and proposed that the spectrum allotment in microwave band to all the operators should be done through auctions.
The report also found that allotment of “MWA to Access Service” providers was withheld by DoT since June 2010 and allotment against only one application was made in December 2015. The report, however did not name the applicant.
“Thus by non-allotment of MWA spectrum to Access Service Providers despite availability resulted in loss of revenue to the government,” said the report.
It further said the financial impact due to delay in withdrawal of excess spectrum held by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) is Rs 520.79 crore.
Further, the audit report found that while putting up spectrum in 1800 MHz (megaheartz) band for auction, this portion of additional guard band spectrum was not considered for sale, rendering 4.4 MHz spectrum (0.2 MHz spectrum in each 22 LSAs) in 1800 MHz, unutilized.
The report has estimated the annual loss on account of non-utilisation of the 4.4 MHz spectrum was Rs 30.92 crore.―Business Standard