The Telecom Commission has approved the recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI ), removing the intra-band cap of 50 percent spectrum holding by operators in a circle. The Commission also allowed operators to hold 35 percent of the total spectrum assigned in a circle against the current cap of 25 percent on the recommendation of the regulator. The move will promote optimum spectrum efficiency and utilization as well as encourage consolidation in the sector. In the intra-band cap where the current regulation prohibits any operator to have more than 50 percent in a given band, TRAI  had said that instead the government should now ensure that an operator does not have more than 50 percent of all the sub-1GHz band like 700, 800, and 900 MHz put together. The measures approved by the TC which now needs to go to the Cabinet will enable operators to create a better LTE capable 4G networks as they can optimize their spectrum holdings in a much more efficient manner. In the immediate term it would benefit Vodafone India and Idea Cellular who are merging their operations and were breaching the intra-band cap of 50 percent in five circles. It will also enable Reliance Jio to acquire more spectrum through trading deals in the 800 MHz from Reliance Communications.

Based on the inter-ministerial group’s recommendation, the TC also approved the extension of time period for the payment of spectrum bought in auctions by operators to 16 years from the current 10 years. It also approved raising of Network for Spectrum project cost to Rs 24,664 crore from Rs 11,330 crore. -  Financial Express


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