Spectrum allocation: Legal view for E&V band

Spectrum allocation: Legal view for E&V band

The department of telecommunications (DoT) has tasked the wireless adviser to work on a roadmap for a hybrid model of allocation of spectrum in the E&V bands, which have the potential to provide high-speed broadband services, especially in remote areas, and also better in-building coverage. Once the report is finalised, the department plans to seek a legal opinion on the course to be adopted, sources said.

The decision to ask the wireless adviser to work out a plan was taken after a detailed presentation on the issue was made by telecom secretary K Rajaraman to communications minister Ashwini Vaishnaw recently.

The methodology to be adopted for allocating spectrum to the operators has become difficult, with telecom players like Reliance Jio seeking auctions, while technology players like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc, pitching for delicensing and administrative allocation.

The spectrum concerned is in the E (71-76 Ghz and 81-86 Ghz) and V (-64 Ghz) bands, which are used as backhaul to connect mobile where fibre is not available.
According to sources, while the DoT in-principle feels that auction should not be the only means to allocate such spectrum, finding another method which takes care of pricing is a tough task.

All of the spectrum in the bands can’t be delicensed as it will lead to loss to exchequer, said a source privy to the details.
The telecom operators are of the view that the spectrum in the band concerned should be auctioned — not doing so would lead to loss of revenue to the government — as these bands have a very high commercial value proposition.

Telcos have conveyed the same to the government through their association, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). Opposed to their stand are technology players, who, through their association Broadband India Forum (BIF), have said the spectrum should be delicensed and not auctioned as it is not the same as spectrum for access services. Questioning the COAI’s stand, BIF has pointed out that auctioning of spectrum in these bands would go against international best practices.

In fact, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, which submitted its recommendations to the DoT way back in August 2014, has also favoured a light licensing approach and not auctioning this spectrum.

The Trai had recommended that both E and V band should be opened with ‘light touch regulation’ and allotment should be on a ‘link to link basis’. It had said that E band carrier should be charged at Rs 10,000 per annum per carrier of 250 MHz each and there should be initial promotional discount of 50% for three years from the date of allocation of first carrier in this band. In case of charging of V band carriers, it had said that it should be Rs 1,000 per annum per carrier of 50MHz each. It has said that prices would be reviewed after five years based on deployment and usage.

Check the source here –Source, Financial Express.