Cyrus Mistry meets Pranab, Montek over spectrum issue

Cyrus Mistry meets Pranab, Montek over spectrum issue New Delhi: Tata Group chairman designate Cyrus Mistry and Tata Teleservices MD Srinath Narasimhan on Tuesday called on Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee amidst industry chorus against telecom regulator TRAI's recommendations on auction of scarce spectrum.

Mistry and Narasimhan, who had yesterday met Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, Tuesday met Mukherjee at his North Block office before driving to Yojana Bhawan to see Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

While both of them did not comment on the outcome of the meeting, it is understood that they raised the issue of TRAI seeking "unrealistic prices" for spectrum.

The duo are, however, believed to have supported TRAI on refarming of sprectum at the end of the existing license period in 2014.

TRAI has suggested that existing operators migrate from current 800 and 900 MHz spectrum to 1,800 MHz when their permits come up for renewal at a fee discovered through auction.

Tata Teleservices is primarly a CDMA operator whose base price for the auction has been set lower than that of GSM spectrum.

Mistry and Narasimhan also drew attention of the both Mukherjee and Ahluwalia on the issue of "spectrum hoarding" by some of the existing telecom players and the need to make them pay for the excess spectrum held.

Telecom operators have already raised concerns about the steep hike in spectrum prices, which they say could lead to mobile phone tariffs going up by as much as 100 percent in certain circles.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has proposed Rs 3,622.18 crore for one megahertz (MHz) as base or minimum price for pan-India spectrum in 1800 MHz for auction.

This suggested price is around 10 times higher than the floor price at which the former Telecom Minister A Raja had allocated spectrum and licences in 2008.

Also, Trai has suggested that the reserve price for 800 MHz (CDMA) and 900 MHz (GSM) bands be at least 2 times higher than that of minimum price for 1800 MHz band (also used be GSM operators currently).

It has been left to the Empowered Group of Ministers, headed by Mukherjee, to take a final decision on various issues including the reserve price of the spectrum.

PTI