Telecom regulator TRAI on Saturday issued a consultation paper to explore regulating communications services being provided by two entities to airlines using a very high-frequency band spectrum.
Based on a reference from the Department of Telecom, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is exploring the methodology through which spectrum should be assigned keeping in mind the Supreme Court judgment in the 2G case which ordered the allocation of spectrum to entities for commercial use to be based on market-determined prices.
The telecom ministry had allocated very high frequency, which is between 30 to 300 Mhz bands, to two agencies –Societe Internationale de Telecommunications Aeronautiques (SITA) and Bird Consultancy Services (BCS) for the data communication link between aircraft and ground stations.
In the consultation paper on ‘Data Communication Services Between Aircraft and Ground Stations Provided by Organizations’, TRAI has asked “Whether there is a need to bring data communication services between aircraft and ground stations provided by organizations other than Airport Authority of India under service licensing regime?” The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has not given any permission or authorization to provide data-link services to any organization as there were no regulations for the same. However, air safety rules require airline operators to use all suitable means to track their aircraft on a real-time basis.
The spectrum has been assigned to the two entities without auction between 2006-10.
The DoT, in its reference to TRAI, has shared that when BCS and SITA applied for renewal of their license, it was found that the spectrum assigned to them is not for captive operations and there could be “a commercial angle in the operation that involved a service rendered to airlines operators.” TRAI in the consultation paper has sought views on “Whether the auction-determined prices for other frequency bands can be accounted for estimating the value of VHF spectrum in the frequency range 117.975-137 MHz?” Comments on the paper can be submitted till January 9, and counter-comments till January 23. PTI