CDMA operators ask government to accept TRAI proposals

New Delhi, May 19 (IANS) CDMA operators have asked the government to accept the telecom regulator’s recommendations on capping of spectrum in circles, cost for buying additional spectrum, and mergers and acquisitions, without caving in to the GSM players’ pressure.

‘TRAI recommendations are pro-consumer and will help bridge digital divide by linking spectrum allocation with roll-out obligations. These are well balanced, progressive and transparent,’ CDMA operators lobby, Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI), said in a letter to Communications Minister A. Raja.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) last week suggested a one-time levy on service providers for holding 2G radio spectrum beyond 6.2 mega hertz. The fee calculation has been pegged to the current prices of 3G, for which an auction is going on.

‘The government should accept the recommendations as they are aimed at restoring the level-playing field between the incumbent operators and new players,’ it said.

Earlier, the GSM operators’ lobby, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), requested the department of telecom (DoT) to dump the TRAI’s proposals. Leading GSM players Bharti Airtel and Vodafone termed the recommendations ‘shocking, perverse and opaque.’

AUSPI said the GSM players were running a ‘deplorable’ campaign.

Reliance Communications, a leading CDMA player, has welcomed the TRAI spectrum proposals which it says would encourage rural telephony.

‘The recommendations are progressive and will encourage rural telephony… Incumbent operators will have to pay up for excess spectrum and return excess spectrum. Impact on incumbent GSM operators will be close to Rs.10,000 crore. Impact on the company will be only Rs.22 crore,’ it said last week in a conference call.

The AUSPI has also raised a concern that Unified Access Services Licensing (UASL) holders should not pay double taxes.

The TRAI’s recommendations have been sent to the DoT whose approval is necessary to make it a law. Raja earlier has said that a ‘patient hearing will be given’ to the operators before a decision is taken on the recommendations.

A source in the DoT said: ‘The government is considering and studying the concerns and reactions of each and every operator. There is no need to press a panic button. These are just recommendations.’

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