Telecom Commission undecided on mergers, spectrum fee

New Delhi : The telecom commission is still undecided over the regulator’s proposition of easing merger norms and allowing the levy of a one-time fee on companies holding excess spectrum and will meet again next week, a senior official said Friday.

“We have not frozen anything yet. We will meet again Dec 9,” R. Chandrashekhar, secretary, Department of Telecom (DoT) told reporters after a meeting of the telecom commission.

Chandrashekhar also said the commission did not want to rush in a decision.

Earlier this month, TRAI had recommended easing mergers for companies having market shares of up to 35 percent, and said that mergers should not be allowed if the resulting company has over 60 percent market share.

It had also proposed levying a one-time fee of Rs.4,571.87 crore on telecom firms who held spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz.

The DoT had asked the regulator to make a fresh set of recommendations on M&As, after Communications Minister Kapil Sibal too agreed with the view that the telecom sector was highly fragmented and required consolidation.

Speaking on the need to auction more bandwidth so that firms can provide quality wireless broadband services, Chandrashekhar said the ministry would go ahead with the process once the pricing is finalised.

There is one chunk of bandwidth available for wireless broadband services in 15 of the 22 circles in India. However, the government will not be able to complete the auction process this financial year, the secretary added.

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