Telcos slam Trai's recommendations on spectrum auction
New Delhi: Terming regulator Trai's recommendations on spectrum auction as "arbitrary, regressive and inconsistent", telecom operators on Monday said the proposals will hurt further investment in the sector and expansion of services in rural areas.
"We believe that several of these recommendations are retrograde and if accepted, will do irreparable harm to the industry," Vodafone India said in a statement.
"It will hamper the ability to connect the unconnected and goes against the objectives of National Telecom Policy of ensuring improved rural tele-density and right to broadband," the country's second largest operator said.
Telecom associations COAI and AUSPI termed the recommendations as "being arbitrary, regressive and inconsistent".
"The industry was looking forward to reasonable spectrum reserve price recommendations from Trai in the light of the government's own articulated policy directions on affordability and rural penetration," the associations said in a joint statement.
They alleged that the industry has repeatedly been facing "contradictory and regressive approach" from the regulator, which is detrimental to the future of the sector.
"From deciding to link the price of 2G spectrum to 3G spectrum auctions, to its own expert committee's inputs without the application of any logic ... The regulator's actions appear to be unfair and biased against all operators," they said.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Monday proposed reserve pricing per MHz at Rs 3,622 crore (1800 MHz), Rs 14,000 crore (for 700 MHz) and Rs 7,244 crore (for 800/900 MHz).
This translates into a reserve price of over Rs 18,100 crore for a block of 5 Mhz in 1800 Mhz band.
The associations said that under regulatory environment, the telecom industry, which is already in a state of doldrums, will be able to deliver on the government's vision of affordable communications, rural penetration and rollout of data services.
"Moreover, it will also affect the investors' already shaken sentiments as it will prove to be an impediment for operators to invest and expand services," they said.
"It seems obvious that some of these recommendations will create severe negative impact on the entire industry. It is up to the political leadership of India to now ensure that the gains of the past few years of affordable phone calls for India's people are not undone," Uninor said in a statement.