Regulator TRAI on Tuesday said it will be “happy” to give its recommendations to the government on spectrum auctions, including timing and pricing aspects, as and when the matter is referred to it.
TRAI Chairman R S Sharma told PTI that although he would not make any specific comments on the timing of auction, the telecom regulator has generally been of the view that the earlier spectrum is leveraged and utilised “the better it is”.
The comments assume significance as earlier on Tuesday the Telecom Department has advocated annual spectrum auctions for India’s telecom market and has said it will shortly approach TRAI for recommendations on pricing, timing and bands that should be placed on the block.
The Telecom Department has also said that the next auction could be held between July and December this year, and will be preceded by a comprehensive policy on use of various spectrum bands including backhaul, access and 5G spectrum.
“Telecom Department is certainly within its rights to ask us to provide recommendations and we will be doing that… Our view in the past also has been to ensure auction of the entire spectrum (placed on the block) and that view was fortunately accepted by the DoT,” he said.
Sharma further said: “Broadly, our view is that spectrum is a resource that is a perishable resource… so the longer you don’t use it, you are losing in an irreversible manner…you cannot recover that lost value. Essentially, the earlier it is leveraged and utilised, the better it is,” Sharma said.
Asked if the regulator, like DoT, was also of the view that auctions should be held this year, Sharma declined to make specific comment but indicated that not utilising spectrum is akin to losing it.
“No, I won’t like to comment on the timing. But when the Telecom Department asks us for our advise whether on timing or prices, we will be happy to give it. We have given certain recommendations with regard to V Band and E Band that we will continue to pursue it with the DoT too. Again, we must realise that not using spectrum, is losing it,” Sharma said.
On Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal and DoT Secretary JS Deepak speaking out in favour of consolidation in the Indian telecom market, Sharma declined to comment saying these were business decisions.
“I have not given any comments on that issue in the past and I will refrain from doing so now. Because these are business decisions… I have maintained that as and when there are regulatory issues that are brought to our notice, we will be dealing with them. But upfront I have no observations to make,” he said.