TRAI is asking whether spectrum auctions need to be held this year considering the fact that around 60% of the spectrum remained unsold last year, in a new consultation paper (pdf). Telcos had unanimously boycotted the 700 MHz and 900 MHz spectrum last year (meant for 4G LTE) stating that prices were set ‘too high’. The DoT had considered conducting a fresh auction this year, but TRAI says that the spectrum acquired by telcos in 2016 itself is yet to be deployed fully. The regulator is also asking whether the entire spectrum needs to be put to auction in 2017 or should it be done in phased manner. “Should auction for some of the bands be held now and for other bands later based on the development of ecosystem etc.?” TRAI asked in the consultation paper. Why TRAI is considering a phased auction process this year TRAI is also concerned about the current industry scenario which is highly competitive with multiple consolidations taking place. “Some (telcos) have filed merger of their companies/licenses while a few licensees have traded their entire spectrum holding and closed their services,” it pointed out in the paper. The DoT is also yet to receive Rs 3.08 lakh crore in deferred payments from telcos, TRAI said. Operators were given an alternative payment structure stretching over 18 years to reduce the financial burden. The telecom industry also owes about Rs 4.60 lakh crore to various financial institutions and banks, TRAI added in its consultation paper. Telcos, stakeholders had expressed…
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