Telecom minister Kapil Sibal said on Thursday that much should not be read into the Telecom Commission’s decision to seek clarity from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on the rationale and methodology for suggesting up to 60 per cent reduction in reserve price for the next round of spectrum auctions. He also exuded confidence that the government will be able to hold a successful auction in the current fiscal.
Speaking at the Idea Exchange programme of the Express Group, Sibal said that the move is procedural. “If there’s disagreement between the department of telecommunications and Trai, rules demand that the matter be referred back to Trai for clarifications. Once the Trai report is received, the matter will be expedited,” Sibal said.
On September 9, when Trai had come out with the recommendations, Sibal had welcomed it. “We are very happy by and large with the positive nature of the recommendations... they are industry-friendly and recognise the ground reality of the market... not only will government get its revenue but market will also be able to purchase spectrum at reasonable prices,” he had said.
The Telecom Commission, at its meeting last week, went along the report of the technical panel constituted by DoT, which was against the lower reserve price and suggested that the regulator be asked to provide clarifications on how it arrived at the figures.
This disappointed the industry, which had welcomed the recommendations. The apprehension was that the suggestions may not be accepted and the government may increase the reserve price which could lead to another unsuccessful auction.
The Telecom Commission is scheduled to meet on October 29 to take a final decision on the revised Trai report.
Trai has 15 days to respond to the clarifications.