Business Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Aug 19, 2006
Regulatory Bodies & Rulings
Info-Tech - Telecommunications
Industry & Economy - Industry Associations
CDMA operators stay away from TRAI meet
Thomas K Thomas
Tatas, Reliance Infocomm disagree on spectrum pricing
Operators question need for the AUSPI
DoT looking at entry fee of Rs 300-400 crore
New Delhi , Aug. 18
The supposedly joint industry meeting initiated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today turned out to be a one-sided affair, with the CDMA camp staying away from the meeting.
Industry sources said that sharp differences between Tata Teleservices and Reliance Infocomm over spectrum pricing made it difficult for the Association of Unified Telecom Services Providers of India (AUSPI) to present a uniform view in the discussion, and it chose to keep away from the meeting.
Mr S.C. Khanna, General Secretary of AUSPI, was not available for comment.
Sources in Tata Teleservices said that the company has communicated its views to the TRAI separately through a letter.
While the Tatas had proposed an entry fee of Rs 1,500 crore, Reliance has proposed a staggered model where operators pay between Rs 150 crore and Rs 50 crore depending the circle. Differences also arose between the operators after Reliance sought spectrum in both 1900 Mhz and 2.1 Ghz for its GSM operations. The Tatas want spectrum only in the 1900 Mhz.
The divisions are so sharp that the operators are now questioning the need for the AUSPI.
This is the third instance of a split in the CDMA camp in recent months after the Tatas took a different position on subscriber verification and on the issue of royalty being charged by Qualcomm.
On the other hand, Mr T.V. Ramachandran, Director-General of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), representing the interests of the GSM operators, and officers from the Defence forces attended the meeting.
During the meeting, which lasted for 90 minutes, the COAI tried to impress upon the TRAI that allocating spectrum in the 1900 Mhz to CDMA operators would create interference in GSM cellular services.
The COAI also said that the entry fee for 3G services should be kept at a minimal level, as it should not pinch the consumers in terms of cost of service.
Sources, however, said that the TRAI is likely to go ahead with its plan to ask CDMA technology vendors to demonstrate that there would not be any interference in case 1900 Mhz is given to CDMA operators for offering 3G services.
Entry fee and allocation of spectrum in the 1900 Mhz are the two main issues of contention that have divided the industry.
The GSM operators have so far been saying that no entry fee should be charged, but most operators privately say that they will agree to pay an entry fee of around Rs 300 crore.
The Department of Telecom is also looking at an entry fee of Rs 300-400 crore, though the Finance Ministry wants it to be above Rs 600 crore.
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