Voice and Data, the leading telecom monthly, has done a good job unpacking the issues within India’s unholy spectrum mess. LIRNEasia’s Payal Malik is one of the participants in the debate.
In case licenses are not de-linked, there will be rollout obligations. Some analysts suggest penalties to be enforced, like taking away extra/unused bandwith for spectrum that is not used optimally. According to Kunal Bajaj, MD, BDA Connect, “Open auction will remove all these problems. Adequate spectrum will be allocated to the best player. However, there should be local benchmarks like existing players should get the first right of refusal.” According to Malik, “There should be no restriction on services as this inhibits competition. In fact, licenses should be given free, as they are meaningless without spectrum. After trading or auctions, those players who have enough spectrum should be allowed to use it the way they want.”
In this scenario, Tata Teleservices has suggested the formation of a spectrum pool, wherein players can pool their extra spectrum and trade it in a free and fair market. Furthermore, it is argued that currently a large chunk of the spectrum is being wasted as each operator requires start-up frequencies as well as guard frequencies to ensure that there is no interference between networks. “The concept of introducing a single radio frequency (RF) network based on the maximum available spectrum and controlled by an independent body will address this problem of scarce spectrum. It will provision the RF network in such a way that the complete spectrum is available to operators a on-required basis. This will resolve all the contentious issues related with spectrum, and provide an efficient RF network to all the existing as well as future service providers. This concept will drastically reduce the capital expenditure and operating expenditure of individual operators, and result in the most efficient use of the available spectrum,” it said on its official website.
Malik explains, “I am in favor of re-sale of spectrum. However, it depends on the micro market structure of pool for resale.” However, according to Satyen Gupta, “Whatever spectrum you can afford to put in a pool should be de-linked from license, as this procedure cannot work while being linked to a license.”
The concept of introducing a single radio frequency (RF) network based on the maximum available spectrum and controlled by an independent body is out there for quite some time now. This idea was floated in Bangladesh for 3G license and spectrum to one entity and all 2G operators become its 3G MVNO. However most operators and BTRC did not support it.