India's DoT planning new spectrum policy

Dylan Bushell-Embling
03 Jan 2011

India's new communications minister, Kapil Sibal, will soon formulate a new spectrum policy to address 2010's allocation scandal.

Sibal has announced a goal to develop a comprehensive new policy - covering spectrum licensing, allocation and sharing - over the next 100 days, Economic Timessaid.

He told reporters the new policy will aim to balance the need for the government to collect reasonable revenue with the requirement to provide affordable services for users and for the sector to grow.

The minister promised to develop the regime based on input from stakeholders, and said he would aim to make it as transparent and clear as possible.

The department of telecom (DoT) is under pressure to reform spectrum practices in response to the 2G licensing scandal of last year. The controversy arose when it emerged that Sibal's predecessor, A Raja, had allocated licenses in 2008 at 2001 prices in a decision that could have cost the government up to $38 billion.

Raja was forced to resign over his role in the disputed allocation, which is still being investigated. Sibal succeeded him.

The proposed new telecom policy would also include an overhaul of rollout obligations for spectrum holders, in what is likely a response to the DoT's claims that many of the winners of the 2008 auction had not met the minimum network coverage requirements.

The DoT has so far issued 2.19 billion rupees ($48.9m) in fines to these operators, including Etisalat DB, Loop Telecom, Uninor, Sistema Shyam and Aircel, as a result of the alleged breaches. As of Saturday the department had collected 73.7 million rupees.

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