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Trai may not allow more cell operators
Thomas K Thomas |
January 29, 2003 12:43 IST
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is likely to oppose the opening up of the cellular sector to unlimited competition due to shortage of frequency spectrum.
According to senior Trai officials, while the regulator is yet to formalise its view on the matter, allowing unlimited operators in the cellular services sector will be against international practices, where there are only three or four operators per circle.
In India, there are already four mobile operators per circle in addition to the wireless in local loop limited mobility operators.
Some members on the Trai board have also expressed reservations about allowing more operators in the cellular sector.
"The government had struggled to provide frequency spectrum even for the fourth operator. It has also not addressed the demands of the existing cellular operators for more spectrum. In such a scenario, it will be difficult to allow more players in the market," said the official.
The communications ministry had sought Trai's recommendations on the feasibility of allowing unlimited competition in the mobile sector. Former Telecom Minister Pramod Mahajan is also in favour of allowing more operators in the segment.
However, the proposal has been opposed by the cellular lobby, which says the existing operators are finding it hard to sustain their business and allowing more operators will only make matters worse.
Cellular operators also point out the existing operators have been pleading with the government for allocating more spectrum, but so far nothing has happened.
Currently, cellular firms get an average of 6 Mhz of spectrum even as international operators are provided with 15-20 Mhz of spectrum.
The ministry has expressed its inability to provide additional spectrum soon since most of the available bandwidth is occupied by defence agencies. The department of telecommunications has also set up a high-level committee to look into the issue.