Telecom operators irked on DoT over spectrum consultation meet

telecom companies, telcos, ARPU, average revenue per user, telcos profitThe move by DoT to talk directly with tech firms and not telecom operators, has irked the telcos.

Telecom operators are miffed with the department of telecommunications (DoT) for not being invited to a key consultation process on framing spectrum policy for the next 10-years. The DoT will start consultations from January 6 onwards about the roadmap for use of the spectrum during the next 10 years but while tech companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Intel, Qualcomm etc have been invited, the operators have to propose their views through their association COAI. This is a problem since in the past on several crucial issues views of Reliance Jio has differed with those of incumbent operators like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

The move by DoT to talk directly with tech firms and not telecom operators, has irked the telcos. The main factor of distrust is around the future of E and V bands. While the tech industry supports delicensing and light-touch regulation regime for E and V spectrum bands, the telecom operators are strongly opposing it. “DoT should have called the operators individually for the consultation as views of a company may be different from what is being given through an association,� said an official with one of the telecom operators.

The E and V bands are considered optimum for providing mobile broadband backhaul while its utility for 5G services is also evolving. So far, the government has not taken a call around allocation methodology of spectrum in these bands.The DoT wants to know what changes are required in current allocations, what frequency bands should be considered for IMT/5G and what spectrum allocations should be done in the next 10 years.

On the first day — January 6 — apart from the tech firms, associations including COAI, BIF, GSMA, GSA, ITU Apt foundation, Motorola, Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung will participate in the meeting. On January 7, Global satellite coalition, Inmarsat, Hughes, One Web will meet with DoT. On January 8, associations including TEMA, TEPC, TSDCI and directors of IIT Kanpur, IIT Chennai, IIT Mumbai, and IIT Delhi will meet while on January 11 and 12, there will be inter-ministerial consultations will take place. Ministries of Home Affairs, Railways, Civil Aviation, Shipping, Defence, Space and information and broadcasting will be holding discussions with DoT officials.

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