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Telecom Panel To Take TRAI’s Views On Providing 700MHz Band Spectrum To Railways

The Digital Communications Commission (DCC), formerly known as the Telecom Commission, has taken a number of decisions, including one to not provide free data of 100 MB in rural areas, and to take TRAI’s view on an allocation of 10 MHz of the 700MHz band to Indian Railways.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said the Department of Telecom will seek the telecom regulator’s views on allocating the 10MHz spectrum worth around Rs 65,000 crore to Indian Railways for an advanced signaling system.

“Indian Railways has asked for 10 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band for setting up public safety and security services. The Commission (DCC) has decided that the DoT should take the views of TRAI in the matter,” she said.

The 700 MHz band is considered one of the best radio waves for long-distance mobile communication services, and TRAI had recommended a base price of Rs 6568 crore per megahertz in 700 MHz, which many operators found to be expensive and did not bid for in the last auctions.

However, giving spectrum to the Railways for non-commercial use may also impact levies such as adjusted gross revenue, spectrum usage charges (SUC) and license fee collected, as the band is earmarked for mobile services.

That is why the DoT will seek TRAI’s views on the matter, Sundararajan said.

The DCC, meanwhile, rejected a TRAI proposal to create data aggregators as it felt many players are already doing similar work and it has decided against creating a new category for data services under telecom licenses.

“We (India) are consuming something like 8.3GB per person per month whereas even countries like China are using only 5GB per person per month. So, there is no need for anybody to incentivize data usage in India. Neither do we need to encourage data usage nor need data intermediaries or a regulator,” she said.

Auto-conferencing service

In another decision, the DCC included approving an audio-conferencing service under the ambit of the telecom license.

Calls made from landline connections do not attract any interconnection usage charge, while it is charged for a mobile-to-mobile call made on different networks. State-owned operator BSNL provides such a service.

Further, the DCC approved reducing the entry fee on VSAT to Rs 15 lakh from Rs 30 lakh and waived the fee of Rs 16 lakh that organizations are required to pay for each VSAT hub thereafter. This would boost setting up of VSAT-based networks, Sundararajan added.―The Hindu Business Line

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