GSMA: India govt needs to reject 'short-termism'

Telecoms trade body again calls on government to reject its regulator's recommendations on upcoming 2G spectrum auction, saying mobile services standard and availability will be negatively impacted.

The GSMA has reiterated its call for the Indian government to reject the recommendations of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for the impending 2G spectrum auction, following the latter's declaration last Sunday that its proposals do not adversely impact the country's mobile industry.

In a statement released late Monday night, the trade association called on India's government to reject "short-termism and embrace international best practice" regarding spectrum auctions. Anne Bouverot, director-general of GSMA, said the country was earmarked to be the second-largest mobile broadband market in the world by 2016, but the prospect is now "in jeopardy" should TRAI get its way.

She noted that the mobile industry already drives 3.6 percent of India's GDP and creates--directly or indirectly--as many as 10 million jobs. However, there is more still to do and government policy, particularly on making additional spectrum available to operators "without delay and at a fair price", will be vital in helping Indian citizens get online, the executive said.

"The Indian market has been starved of spectrum for many years," noted Bouverot. "TRAI's recommendations, especially on 'refarming', will further increase this scarcity and negatively impact both the quality and availability of mobile services, particularly in rural areas, leading to significantly higher prices for consumers."

Thus, she called on the government to turn away from "purely maximizing auction revenues" and to accelerate the timetable for the release of additional spectrum. "We cannot afford to fail; too much is at stake of India's citizens and its economy."

Last Sunday, TRAI had defended its proposals saying that its reserve prices were finalized with the aim of liberalizing the spectrum and enabling operators to choose any technology in the spectrum bands that they hold. This, it said, will greatly enhance the value of the spectrum to the operators.

Furthermore, the recommendations will not adversely impact the profitability of the wireless industry or the entry of new operators, nor do they adversely affect the affordability of the consumer, it stated.


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