Telecom operators send mixed signals on spectrum allocation

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While the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) seeks to establish a specific legal framework for the allocation of spectrum, the main telecommunications operators are divided, Reliance Jio proposing the auction as the only way to allocate all kinds of waves, while wishing that only the terrestrial access spectrum is auctioned and the satellite and terrestrial waves are granted administratively. wants all spectrum except backhaul to be auctioned.

All telecommunications operators gave their comments as part of the consultation on the development of a new legal framework to govern the telecommunications sector in the country. According to DoT officials, a draft document is being prepared to be shared for further comments from all stakeholders. “According to Airtel, spectrum for satellite and backhaul purposes should be administratively allocated, while Vodafone Idea wants administrative allocation for backhaul and auctions as the preferred means of satellite access and spectrum,” said a manager, on condition of anonymity.

Requests sent to

Jio, Bharti and Vodafone Idea remained unanswered at press time.

Satellite and technology players have also opposed auctions as the only way to allocate spectrum. “We will study the feedback from various stakeholders and see what could be better proposed. We need to establish a future-ready framework for the development of the telecom sector and the deployment of new technologies,” an official said.

According to the consultation paper released by the DoT, currently, spectrum allocation is done through a combination of policy and court orders. “A new law must clarify the regulations and establish a specific legal framework. The principle must be that the spectrum will be allocated to best serve the common good and allow widespread access to telecommunications services,” the document states.

In addition, there is a need to clarify the regulations for satellite spectrum. While the Ministry of Space will define space policy, the DoT will establish a roadmap for spectrum allocation. A reference has already been made by the DoT to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) requesting recommendations for satellite spectrum pricing and allocation methodology.

Apart from clarity on spectrum allocation, telecom operators are unanimously calling for a convergence law to regulate various communication services such as OTT, DTH and content.

“In the era of convergence, there should be one convergence law that should regulate all communication services,” said an official at the telecommunications company, who did not wish to be identified.

Telecom companies have reiterated their call for regulation of over-the-top (OTT) communication services like WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram.

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