As Telecom Commission did not approve various suggestions made by telecom regulator TRAI, GSM industry body COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India) has approached the Prime Minister's Office to get the recommendations implemented for the next round of auction proposed in February, next year.
"If the proposed spectrum auction to be held in February 2015 is conducted with completely inadequate spectrum, it will put investments of thousands of crores or rupee and continuity of service to millions of customers at huge risk," COAI said in a letter to Nripendra Mishra, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister.
Most of the spectrum that are proposed to be put up for sale are at present being used by Airtel , Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications across various parts of the country. These companies will need to buy back airwaves to continue their operations in areas where their licences are expiring in 2015-16.
COAI said that companies whose licences are coming up for ‘extension' in 2015-16 at present serve around 275 million customers and disruption in services to these subscribers is a very real possibility if these licencees are unable to retain their spectrum. "The implications of such an auction have been highlighted by the TRAI in its recent recommendations, where, the regulator has enunciated the risks of carrying out of an auction with inadequate spectrum," COAI said.
The industry body echoed recommendations of TRAI to take back part of spectrum from BSNL in premium 900 Mhz band. The Department of Telecom has said that it has no jurisdiction to take back spectrum from any company under licence condition and hence TRAI's recommendation cannot be implemented.
COAI asked for putting 2100 Mhz band, used for 3G service, also for auction along with 800 Mhz (used for CDMA), 900 Mhz and 1800 Mhz (used for GSM mobile services). However, spectrum in 2100 Mhz band is held by the Defence Ministry which is awaiting an alternate network to be ready for its communication needs before it vacates the radiowaves.
The Telecom Commission has said that availability of 2100 Mhz spectrum band should not be linked with the proposed spectrum auction.