Inter-ministerial panel Telecom Commission has in-principle approved Trai's recommendation on determining spectrum holding limits and sought suggestions from the sector regulator to implement it in future auctions.
"Telecom Commission discussed spectrum cap recommendation of Trai and in-principle agreed to the recommendations. It has sought regulator's view on implementing it in future auctions," a government official told PTI.
The spectrum cap, the limit of radiowaves a telecom operator can hold for providing wireless services, is 50 per cent in a spectrum band identified fit for transmitting mobile signals and 25 per cent of the total such spectrum assigned in a telecom circle.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in July had said that unallocated telecom spectrum should also be counted while determining limit of radiowaves that a company can hold -- a suggestion if implemented would widen capacity of telecom operators to hold more spectrum.
According to telecom sector experts, Trai's rules will improve other operator's ability to buy more spectrum which will lead to not only decongesting networks but also help in facilitating much-needed market consolidation.
"The DoT will write to Trai within a week to seek its suggestion," the official said. The panel, which is represented by Secretaries from DoT, Finance, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion and others, will then firm up its recommendation on the matter which will be send to the Telecom Minister for final approval.
As per an expert, if Trai's view are implemented then it will enable Bharti Airtel acquire an additional 5 MHz of spectrum in Delhi in either 1800 or 2100 MHz band-- both these can be used for 4G services.
The regulator definition will also help Airtel's ability to buy additional spectrum for mobile internet services in nine more telecom circles including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Kolkata, Tamil Nadu.
The expert said that Vodafone will be able to acquire more blocks of spectrum through trading in Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka and Mumbai under Trai suggested rule. It will also help Idea acquire more blocks spectrum through trading in 7 of the 22 circles which include Delhi, Gujarat, Mumbai, Maharashtra.
Talking about Reliance Jio Infocomm, the expert said that "DoT's existing rules itself provides RJIL with enough room to buy additional spectrum."