DoT may seek TRAI comments on CAG points over service quality
New Delhi: The Department of Telecom may approach TRAI for its comments on questions raised by official auditor CAG over the sectoral regulator's tracking of the quality of service (QoS) provided by telecom operators.
"The letter (from CAG) has adversely commented on TRAI in respect of QoS, and consequently on the issue of allocation of additional spectrum to mobile operators to maintain the required quality of service... We may seek the comments of TRAI on various observations made by DG Audit," said an official source.
Connecting dots between failure of recent 2G spectrum auctions and requirement QoS by telecom operators as mandated by TRAI, CAG in a note to DoT has raised questions on the credibility of data provided to the regulator by companies and survey done by the regulator to map mobile services quality.
CAG has sought DoT's comments on its draft report but official sources said that TRAI Act does not authorise government to interfere in the working of the regulator and therefore, "no direction can be issued on this subject to TRAI".
The Comptroller and Auditor General is learnt to have blamed cartelisation by telecom players behind the failure of recent spectrum auctions and pointed finger at the conduct of Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Communications, Idea Cellular and Tata Teleservices in this regard.
The auditor had said these telecom firms have been demanding additional spectrum to meet QoS standards mandated by TRAI and "if additional spectrum was vital for maintaining TRAI prescribed QoS, then reluctance of the operators to take spectrum at price in the last two auction appeared to be a significant departure from their earlier stand".
CAG had earlier said that the spectrum allocation to the companies without auction in 2008 caused the government a presumptive loss of Rs 1,76,000 crore.
This time its note has said that the government was unable to sell airwaves, valued at around Rs 85,014.18 crore as per TRAI's recommended price, alleging cartelisation by telecom operators.
In November, there was muted response from the industry to bidding for spectrum that was freed from cancellation of 122 licences. The auction fetched the government about Rs 9,407 crore, instead of Rs 28,000 crore estimated, as per the minimum price fixed for the spectrum.
In another set of auctions held in March, only Sistema Shyam participated and secured spectrum of around Rs 3,600 crore.
The CAG note said: "If additional spectrum was vital for maintaining TRAI prescribed QoS, then reluctance of the operators to take spectrum at price in the last two auction appeared to be a significant departure from their earlier stand.