The Department of Telecom (DoT) has approached Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the sector regulator, on opinion of current spectrum limits (25% overall across all bands and 50% within a band) pertinent to the providers.
The letter of department to TRAI related to this follows the suggestions made by the IMG (inter-ministerial group) tasked with testing financial pressure in telecom industry. Any easing of spectrum cap by TRAI inside a band might come as a break to Vodafone and Idea Cellular that are in the procedure of amalgamation.
“In view of the IMG survey, TRAI is asked to offer opinions on whether current valid band-wise spectrum limit of 50% of complete spectrum allocated for a Licensed Service Area (LSA) in a band and overall limit of 25% of entire spectrum allocated across bands in LSA, must persist or requires review,” claimed the letter, seen by the local media.
It requested TRAI to give opinions on the latest overall and band-wise spectrum limits, in case of an evaluation. It also cites that IMG had stated in its report that Vodafone, Idea, and Reliance Communications had asked for getting rid of the spectrum limits, while Airtel had represented in opposition to it. IMG claimed that the issue merits inputs and examination from regulator and for that reason the DoT has agreed to check with TRAI on the matter of spectrum cap.
According to the present rules, providers in each access regions are not permitted to exceed the limit of 25% of entire radiowaves allocated in 800, 700, 1800, 900, 2300, 2100, and 2500 Mhz bands, and 50% inside a particular band. In case of an acquisition or a merger, if merged entity goes beyond the predetermined caps it has to capitulate the surplus spectrum inside a time of 1 Year.
Relaxation in spectrum limit inside a band, if it occurs, might come as a break to integrating entities Vodafone and Idea Cellular, as some experts have alerted that the joint holding might breach spectrum limits in 900 Mhz band all over the 5 telecom circles (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Kerala, and UP West).