GSM operators' body COAI has slammed the regulator TRAI for not taking all the stakeholders on board over the issue of spectrum refarming. Accusing the government of failing to handle the issue in a transparent manner, the operators body called upon DoT to tackle the issue in a 'holistic, transparent, comprehensive and consultative manner'.
"COAI reiterates that no proper consultation with the stakeholders has ever been carried out by the TRAI on the issues involved and the impact of re-farming, although TRAI acknowledges that it has significant impact on live networks, coverage and connectivity for hundreds of millions of mobile subscribers," says the body in a statement.
“Despite voluminous submissions made by the industry underlining serious gaps in the TRAI recommendations dated 23-Apr-2012 on 'Auction of Spectrum', which perfunctorily touched upon the issue of 're-farming', it is understood from media reports that the TRAI has now non-transparently shared some further analysis on its earlier recommendations with the DoT without placing it before the industry for their feedback,” it added.
“This lack of transparency in addressing the refarming issue, renders any decision on it legally untenable, especially in light of Section 11(4) of the TRAI Act 1997 which requires the Authority to ensure transparency while exercising its powers and discharging its functions,” it said.
The COAI statement comes shortly before the meeting of Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) that will discuss the recommendations of Telecom Commission on spectrum refarming.
"The Telecom Commission on Wednesday finalised its response after considering the clarifications submitted by Trai and recommendations of a Department of Telecom (DoT) committee," Telecom Secretary R Chandrasekhar told reporters.
Without divulging much details, the official said the response will be placed before the EGoM Thursday. He, however, did not disclose further details.
Earlier, the telecom regulatory body TRAI recommended existing operators to replace their spectrum in 900MHz band with the less efficient 1800 MHz band at the time of permit renewal starting November, 2014.
The DoT, however, has asked for clarifications from TRAI on various factors in view of EGoM seeking complete analysis of options provided before it on spectrum refarming.
It is believed that if the TRAI recommendation gets the EGoM nod, the operators may take a hit of over Rs. 1.15 lakh crore to switch their 900-MHz network and subscribers to the 1,800-MHz band. Read our previous coverage spectrum refarming here.