New Delhi: The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) is likely to discuss the contentious issue of spectrum refarming on November 1, sources in Department of Telecom (DoT) said on Tuesday.
Refarming calls for existing operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular to give up all their spectrum / airwave holdings in more-efficient 900 mega hertz band when their permits come up for renewal starting November, 2014.
The operators will be given the option to buy replacement airwaves in the less efficient 1800 MHz band. "EGoM will discuss the refarming issue on Thursday," sources said.
Before this meet, inter-ministerial body Telecom Commission will also discuss the spectrum refarming matter on Wednesday.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman Rahul Khullar met Telecom Secretary R Chandrasekhar to discuss the issue, sources said.
Both officials declined to comment on the content of their meeting.
The DoT has referred the refarming issue again to Trai for further analysis after Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia asked the government to do more consultations with Trai before asking telecom firms to give up their existing airwaves.
The GSM industry is opposed to refarming or substitution of their 900 MHz airwares with inferior quality 1800 MHz band spectrum saying it will cost them over Rs 1,00,000 crore in buying replacement airwaves in an auction and also building more mobile masts and replacing some of the existing gears to continue services.
The GSM industry body COAI has said full refarming in 900 MHz band will make investments of over Rs 150,000 crore redundant.
Along with matter of spectrum refarming, TC is also likely to discuss fund support to BSNL for its rural landline operations, telecom security policy and USO fund support for providing mobile services in the naxal affected area.