Govt to discuss 2G dispute with operators

CIOL Bureau
New Update

NEW DELHI, INDIA: India will listen to all mobile operators before finalising any increase in second-generation (2G) spectrum fee, the Telecom Minister A. Raja said on Friday.


"If necessary, patient hearing will be given to all stakeholders," Andimuthu Raja told reporters.

He also said he expected the ongoing 3G spectrum auctions to conclude in the next few days.

Meanwhile, Dr JS Sarma, the chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), said that the regulator is ready to work with the telecom operators and will come out with its findings soon. "The recomendations have already been sent to the Department of Telecomunications and the government can wait for our findings before acting on It," Sarma said while addressing an open house discussion the consultation paper on 'Efficient Utilization of Numbering Resources', here today.


"There are contrary opinions on 3G and 2G services, we will have to lok into it and study it further," he said.

He said TRAI's recommendation to the govenment to collect a one-time levy from operators holding 2G spectrum beyond 6.2 mega hertz will not impact their profits in a big way. "There will be no impact. It is going to be a small amount. I don't think it is going to matter in terms of their (telecom operator) operating profits or tariffs," he said. 

On Tuesday, TRAI had recommended that companies pay a one-time fee for holding 2G radio-spectrum beyond 6.2 megahertz (MHz) based on 3G prices, a move that will hit established operators dominant on the platform. TRAI in its recent recommendation had also recommended that spectrum assigned beyond the contracted amount be paid for at the current price. This will be equally applicable to the service providers who are already holding the excess spectrum and those who will be assigned beyond the contracted amount in future.


India's leading mobile phone operator Bharti Airtel, which could face paying $1.4 billion if the new fees were adopted, has said the regulator's proposals were "shocking, arbitrary and retrograde" and urged government to reject them.

Bharti and others, including Vodafone Essar, are locked in a multi-billion dollar bidding war for 3G spectrum that has exceeded forecasts.

However, Sarma mentioned that there is not going to be much impact in the industry due to this recommendation of TRAI.

“It is not going to be huge outgo. It will be around Rs 14000 crore altogether. Impact on BSNL and MTNL will be Rs 5700 crore. The figure that individual operators will have to pay had already been given. I don’t think it is going to matter either in terms of their (operators) own operating profit or tariff as such,” said Sarma. 

(With inputs from Reuters)