Don't take back spectrum from telcos if cap changes: TRAI

Telecom operators should not be asked to surrender excess spectrum if the maximum holding limit in a circle gets changed after allocation of the airwaves, telecom regulator TRAI Tuesday suggested to the government.

PTI| Updated: Feb 16, 2016, 21:21 PM IST

New Delhi: Telecom operators should not be asked to surrender excess spectrum if the maximum holding limit in a circle gets changed after allocation of the airwaves, telecom regulator TRAI Tuesday suggested to the government.

Replying to a clarification sought from the Department of Telecom (DoT), the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said that in case there are changes in quantum of availability of commercial spectrum, "no TSP (Telecom Service Provider) should be asked to surrender any spectrum which it already holds."

Trai had earlier recommended that spectrum cap or maximum radiowaves holding limit of telecom operator should be calculated by taking into account all airwaves available for commercial purpose.

The spectrum cap, or the limit of radiowaves a telecom operator can hold for providing wireless services, is 50 percent in a spectrum band identified fit for transmitting mobile signals and 25 percent of the total such spectrum assigned in a telecom circle.

In July 2015, Trai had said all spectrum allocated to telecom operators, airwaves put to auction but remained unsold and airwaves that were assigned but later taken by the government should be counted as available spectrum for calculating spectrum cap.

The Telecom Commission in November 2015 had in-principle accepted Trai's recommendation and asked DoT to take view of the regulator on action that government should take in case total available commercial spectrum reduces due to non-commercial allocation of spectrum.

This suggestion if implemented would widen capacity of telecom operators to hold more spectrum as well as give room to other service providers to hold airwaves in a circle equal to the limit allowed for their competitor in a circle.

"For the sake of level playing field amongst TSPs, the same spectrum cap may be made applicable for all the TSPs in that LSA (licenced service area)," Trai said.