The battle over new licences and spectrum has drawn in more agencies of the government –the Prime Minister’s Office, the ubiquitous Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Law.
The Ministry of Finance has requested the DOT to “stay “ the issue of new licences even as it has questioned using the auction price set in 2001 for pricing the spectrum for cross over technology from CDMA to GMS. Reliance Communications has paid Rs 1651 crores for a pan India Gsm licence. HFCL has deposited Rs 151.75 crore for the Punjab circle while Shyam has paid Rs 32 crores for the Rajasthan circle.
The Ministry of Law appears to have suggested that the matter should be examined by a Group of Ministers- a favourite ploy of the Congress led UPA government to resolve all contentious issues.
The Prime Minister, who appears to be aware that spectrum availability can be a constraint for the growth of this sector in future, has enunciated the guidelines for new licences and awarding spectrum.
- All technological options must be explored for the optimal utilization of this precious and limited resource
- The policy regime for making spectrum available should be fair, transparent, equitable and forward looking. It should not create entry barriers to newcomers or barriers to the continued growth of the sector.
- The revenue potential to the Government must not be lost sight of. After all, governments across the globe have harnessed substantial revenues while allocating spectrum.
- The Government and the regulator should work closely to ensure correct pricing, fair allocation rules, and a pro-competitive stance.
However, while the Prime Minister is known for saying all the right things, he seldom ensures that the ministries, especially those run by the allies supporting the government, follow his guidelines.