The second and final day of the CII-organised national seminar on ‘Regulatory Issues in the Age of Convergence’ on June 29, 2006 witnessed some interesting observations on spectrum management in India. Speakers mooted a Spectrum Regulatory Authority and Spectrum Relocation Fund to solve the spectrum allocation riddle.
Speaking on the broader issue of electromagnetic management, Lt Gen Davinder Kumar, Signal Officer-in-Chief, Army Headquarters, stressed on the need for spectrum management to spectrum regulation. “There should be a separate spectrum regulation authority, which will also ensure spectral efficiency standards.”
“While we need to look at the international best practices in spectrum management, we should allocate spectrum in a way that best serves our national interest as spectrum is a sovereign natural resource of any nation state,” Lt Gen Kumar held.
The panel discussion on ‘State of spectrum management in India: Recommended steps for the future’ was moderated by former TRAI member D P S Seth.
Speaking as a panelist, Ashok Sud, President, Corporate Affairs, Tata Teleservices, said, “The telecom regulator should break away from the shackles of the past and take a stand looking towards the future. It should allocate spectrum with a technology and service neutral approach.”
“We are at the threshold of the next big push. With telecom penetration level of 12-13 per cent, we have just scratched the surface. If operators don’t have enough spectrum, then the quality of service will be the first thing to suffer,” observed Rajat Mukarji, VP, Corporate Affairs, Idea Cellular.
Mukarji, however, maintained that 3G was not that critical an issue and that more bandwidth in 2G could also solve the problem.
B V Raman, Country Head-India, CDMA Development Group, said, “Spectrum allocation is no more an issue between GSM and CDMA players, many new technologies have come of late. So, multiple-technology is a reality in the present world and we should realise that. In such a scenario, regulation for de-regulation is the need of the hour.”
Mahesh Uppal, Director, Com First (India) Pvt Ltd, held that, “The present spectrum policy is outdated. You cannot have a rural telecom strategy that revolves around only voice and try to fit it for the whole country.”
Deepak Maheshwari, GM, Corporate Affairs, Sify Ltd, said, “New policy should ensure equal opportunity for all technologies like Wimax. The government cannot afford to have a geographic-neutral spectrum policy. Cost of spectrum should vary from area to area according to the demand it receives. The government should create a spectrum relocation fund for this purpose.”