Telcos, under the aegis of COAI, have jointly pitched for spectrum allocation in E and V bands only through an auction and urged the regulator to expedite the process of fixing floor tariffs for data at a recent meeting with the new Trai chief, industry sources have said.
Other issues highlighted by the top industry representatives at the meeting include a reduction in levies and review of the regulatory stance on over-the-top (OTT) communication services.
These issues were flagged by the industry at a meeting with the new Trai Chairman last week, sources told PTI.
It is pertinent to mention that P D Vaghela took over as the new Chairman of Trai from October 1.
The sources said the industry maintained that spectrum in highly commercial and valuable E and V bands should not be delicensed.
All licensed private access service providers are prepared to bid and buy spectrum in these bands through an open and transparent bidding process, generating revenues for the government, the industry contended.
The industry has, therefore, urged the regulator to recommend to the government for allocation of spectrum in E and V bands only through transparent auction to licensed access service providers.
The telecom industry – which wants Trai to set floor tariffs for data – has urged the regulator to expedite the consultation process in this regard by initiating open house discussion, and issue a regulation on the floor tariffs.
When contacted, Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) Director-General SP Kochhar confirmed the meeting, saying the industry held ‘frank and open’ discussions with the regulator, highlighting various issues, including E and V bands, the floor price for tariffs, and OTT matter.
It may be recalled that last month COAI had written to Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on the E and V band issue, where it called for the allocation of spectrum in these specified bands ‘through transparent auction to access service providers immediately’.
COAI had cautioned that any decision on de-licensing or administrative allocation of E and V band spectrum would be against the prevailing policy framework, create non-level-playing-field for licenced telcos, cause huge revenue loss to the government, and would be legally untenable.
Radiowaves in E band, which falls in 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz, and V band in 57-64 GHz can transmit data at very high speed, and the method of spectrum allotment in these bands has been a subject of high-voltage debate in the sector, and within the government circle.
On OTT, the telecom operators have urged the Trai chief to review/revisit the regulatory stance on the issue.
The regulator — in mid-September — had ruled out any immediate regulatory intervention for OTT communications services like WhatsApp, Google duo and Viber, and said time is not opportune to recommend a comprehensive regulatory framework for them – dashing hopes of telcos that had been pushing for same rules to be applied to these players.
Outlining its position on the issue of the regulatory framework for OTT communication services, Trai had said that the entire matter can be looked into afresh when more clarity emerges in international jurisdictions, particularly the study undertaken by the International Telecommunication Union.
Telcos are of the view that OTT players should be licensed by introducing the OTT Communication Authorisation under the Unified License, and that same data privacy and security rules should apply to all the players. PTI