Feb 02, 2012, 07.49 PM | Source: CNBC-TV18

Trai moots for unified license; auction may go the 3G way

CNBC-TV18 caught up with JS Sharma, chairman of Trai to get his outlook on the big move by the SC cancelling all licenses given out in January 2008.

JS Sharma, Chairman, Trai
CNBC-TV18 caught up with JS Sharma, chairman of Trai to get his outlook on the big move by the SC cancelling all licenses given out in January 2008. He says that Trai will immediately embark on making recommendations for grant of new licenses. The Supreme Court has given the telecom regulator a two-month deadline for submission of its report.

Sharma says that about 10-15 Mhz of spectrum will freed by cancellation of licenses and it will be available for auction in each service area. The number of blocks and size of it is yet to be determined. "Fixing the reserve price is most important and we will deliberate on it," he says. According to him, there is a fair chance that the 3G auction process be repeated. 

As far as the entry fee is concerned, Sharma still moots for the unified license fee concept.

Below is the edited transcript of the interview. Also watch the accompanying video.

Q: You must have had occasion to go through the order because it specifically concerns the TRAI and it directs that the TRAI within two months of the order make fresh recommendations for grant of license and the government therefore act upon it in a month. This is some ways sets in motion a time-bound action of the kind that it never happened in 2G before. Your first thoughts on these directives and how will this pan out?

A: Yes, we should be able to start the consultation process immediately. We are in discussion right now. We have got a time limit of about two months; we should be able to do this in two months time. That is what our attempt will be.

Q: Give us a sense on what is the extent of spectrum you think would be available for this auction before I go on to ask you about the modalities of such an auction?

A: Earlier, when 69 licenses were cancelled, it was about 276 Mhz or so. So, now that 122 licenses are being cancelled, it will about of the order of 300-400 Mhz of spectrum. I dont have the exact figure. But yes, sufficient spectrum will be available because all these licenses are being cancelled. So, about 10-15 MHz of spectrum should easily be available in each of these service areas, so it should be quite feasible.

Now what we need to really is to determine the size of the block and the number of blocks that will be sold or put on action.

As far as the entry fee is concerned I think we have already made a recommendation and which is in advanced stage of consideration by the government which is there should be unified license. Then it could be a case of people whoever is the license holder, who asks for spectrum. These are some things that we have to fine-tune over the next few days and finally come up with our recommendations.

Q: At this early stage, do you think there is a possibility of revision of the entry fee for the unified excess license?

A: Yes, we have the fixation of the reserve price would be an important aspect and that requires deliberation. Obviously it cant be Rs 1659 crore. It would be higher than that, and what exactly the figure would be we will have to deliberate. Now the question is we have already given certain values in the February 2011, so thats one aspect that needs to be taken into consideration. I am sure there would be views in regards to the reserve price, but this is something that we would definitely be putting out for consultation.

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