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Telecom Secy Meets TRAI Chairman Over Industry Issues

Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan on Monday met TRAI Chairman R.S. Sharma and is believed to have discussed the industry’s health issues which have caused concern among operators as the government gears up for the spectrum auction.

Sources said the meeting deliberated upon the agenda of the TRAI for the telecom sector in the next fiscal starting April 1, 2019.

Though the exact line of discussion between the regulator and the government could not be confirmed, but Sundararajan meeting the TRAI Chairman at his office along with Additional Secretary Anshul Prakash did give rise to belief that the current health of the industry was discussed.

Recently, Vodafone Global CEO Nick Read had alleged that the TRAI’s policies had benefitted one operator — Reliance Jio. His Airtel counterpart Sunil Mittal also feels the cheap tariffs of Jio have bled the industry.

The issue of state-run BSNL’s 4G spectrum allocation through the equity infusion route outside auction is also with the regulator at the moment and the meeting between Sharma and Sundararajan may have deliberated on the possibility of the chances of BSNL getting spectrum without violation of the Supreme Courts’s order, though this could not be confirmed.

The SC order bars allocation of spectrum outside auction but telecom PSUs cannot bid in a government-sponsored auction. For BSNL, 4G spectrum allocation is now a do-or-die situation as it has come to a stage of defaulting in salaries, with lack of 4G LTE services also seen as a reason for the current cash crunch. But the Department of Telecom also cannot violate the apex court’s order to give spectrum to BSNL.

As on December 2018, Gross Revenue (GR) and Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) of Telecom Service Sector for the QE Sep-18 has been Rs 57,827 crore and Rs 36,142 crore respectively. Both declined by 0.98 percent and 1.12 percent respectively as compared to the previous quarter, according to the TRAI performance indicator report.―Business Standard

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