The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has expressed its resentment towards the indifference of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) towards the industry’s pleas for consumer interest and sustainability of the sector. COAI, the non-government body aiming to aid service providers to establish and maintain world class, affordable mobile services in India has alleged that TRAI has been pushing flawed recommendations, along with being biased. COAI also disapproves of the discriminatory environment existent between dual technology operators and GSM operators and also the subsequent violations of the level playing field. It claims that TRAI has ignored the industry representations and further burdens the sector with its erroneous and unfair recommendations for the reserve price for auction of spectrum. This, it believes would further lead to serious public interest and public policy impacts and could critically detriment interests of the consumers. “A definite death knell”, as stated by Mr. Rajan S Mathews, Director General, COAI.

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Flawed recommendations (Image Credit: Getty Images)

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It further states that despite the concern expressed by COAI on ‘Refarming’ that would lead to Destruction of Capital and Forced Obsolescence of Infrastructure, the authority refused to address the issue and continues to maintain its earlier position. TRAI’s recommendations are said to be favouring a few dual technology operators. Apparently, gradual inclination towards the dual technology operators has been highlighted in TRAI’s previous recommendations and turns out to be even more evident now with this parting gift in the price of 800MHz spectrum, which has been arbitrarily reduced from 2 times to 1.3 times the reserve price of 1800MHz spectrum. 

The industry has been already concerned with irrational high reserve prices and TRAI further suggests an increase in the spectrum usage charge from 1 percent to 3 percent. This will eventually hamper consumer affordability. According to COAI, the regulator continues to rely on fallacious assumptions and even leading Financial Analysts from around the globe have pointed out to the shockingly erroneous conclusions of the TRAI and have provided clarifications and calculations, which tally with the ones provided by the COAI earlier. The industry has been revealing that exorbitantly high reserve prices will be ruinous for them, while leading independent financial analysts maintain the same.

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