Raja to discuss policy issues

Telecom minister A Raja has called for a meeting with all telecom operators on Wednesday to discuss what is officially termed as ‘the current industry scenario’. Sources said that the minister would discuss with industry representatives policy issues and changes that need to be incorporated in the wake of the sudden rush for telecom licences. Telecom regulator Trai’s proposals for changes in licensing reforms will also be discussed, sources added.

Confronted with a slew of applications for telecom licences over the last couple of weeks, Mr Raja had earlier directed the department of telecom (DoT) to constitute an internal committee to rework the existing policy norms.

Some of the options being considered by this committee include doing away with the first-come-first-serve clause for licence applications and also delinking the grant of licence from spectrum allocation. Mr Raja will consult the industry on these issues and also seek their views on them, sources said. Two representatives from each operator will be allowed to attend the meet.

The meeting comes just a day after the expiry of the October 1 deadline set by Mr Raja for accepting applications for telecom licences. The DoT has received over 400 new applications from about 20 companies which include AT&T, realty firms DLF, Unitech, Parsvnath, Omaxe, consumer durables major Videocon, Moser Baer, BPTP Properties, Prithvi Solutions, Next Gen Telecom, Avinija Properties, Meta Telecommunications, ISPAT group, Jindal Steel and metals giant Sterlite among others.

The industry, especially GSM players are also slated to discuss with Mr Raja Trai’s recommendation that the current subscriber-linked spectrum allocation norms be hiked several multiple times. If implemented, all existing players will not be eligible for additional 2G spectrum for a considerable future.

GSM operators have already approached the department of telecom (DoT) as well as the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) stating that Trai’s recommendations on increasing the subscriber base criteria ‘arbitrarily’ for additional spectrum allocation was ‘scientifically incorrect and technically flawed’.

It is also likely that Mr Raja will give the industry an update on the 3G spectrum policy and also as to the time frame by which it will be made available after the defence forces vacate the same.