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GSMA:TRAI Recommendations On Spectrum Auction Would Curtail Investment In Mobile Broadband,Increase Prices

The global mobile industry body, GSMA or GSM Association has strongly reacted to the TRAI’s recommendations on spectrum auction, saying that the proposals disregard international best practice in spectrum policy and jeopardize the investment of billions of US dollars in new mobile infrastructure in the telecom sector. It has said that the guidelines would set India back in its goal to deliver “Broadband on Demand” to the citizens of India, and would reduce the ability of mobile operators to invest in network upgrades and expansion, and would undermine the ability of India to leverage its telecom infrastructure to empower citizens and businesses, especially those in rural communities, to participate equitably in the Internet economy.

The GSMA said that the high reserved prices for spectrum will curtail mobile operator investment in Mobile Broadband infrastructure and increase prices to consumers. “Efforts to squeeze money out of mobile operators for some perceived short-term gain will only reduce investment in networks, inhibit growth of mobile services and drive up consumer prices – limiting the value the public will derive from the spectrum resource in the long term,” said Franco Bernabè, Chairman of the GSMA and Chairman and CEO of Telecom Italia Group.

The Association is also critical of  the TRAI’s recommendation on spectrum re-farming, which would force current 900 MHz licensees out of the band into the 1800 MHz band. According to the GSMA, this would limit the available spectrum in the upcoming 1800 MHz 2G auction (which is scheduled to take place before September following the SC verdict) and leave the remainder under-utilised for a significant period, creating unnecessary scarcity for telcos, and would lead to billions of US dollars of investment being wasted.

According to the GSMA, the association and its members are seeking an open dialogue with the Indian Government on the licensing of the spectrum with the aim of finding a solution that will drive investment and growth in the sector.

Earlier this month, the GSMA had said that India should refrain from developing its own technology standards, and that technology standards need to remain global. This is probably in response to a proposal in the new National Telecom Policy that calls for development of new standards and intellectual property from India.

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