The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
(TRAI) has not received any request from the government seeking its stand on the allocation of 4G airwaves to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL), a top executive said. The senior TRAI official’s comments stand in stark contrast to that of the Department of Telecommunications’ (DoT). In February, the DoT said it had referred the 4G spectrum allotment matter to the telecom regular after a decision made by the Digital Communications Commission (DCC).
“We have not received any reference from the department of telecommunications (DoT) for providing recommendations on the 4G spectrum to BSNL and MTNL,” the official said on conditions of anonymity.
BSNL, MTNL await 4G as loan mounts
The statement clouds the allotment of 4G spectrum to the loss-making state-owned telecom firms, which have a growing debt of Rs 35,000 crore and are looking for the Modi-government’s approval to commercially introduce 4G services to take on private players like Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea and Airtel.
The high-speed data service over the 4G network is also a part of BSNL’s “revival strategy” as well as asset monetisation and voluntary retirement scheme (VRS).
BSNL employee union has been holding protests to demand 4G
Representing over 1,70,000 workers, BSNL employee unions had last held a three-day strike to demand 4G spectrum for the state-run enterprise. One of the reasons behind the delay is the government’s indecision in regard to allocating 4G airwaves to the company.
The telecom department, on its part, has stated that TRAI
will advise on the issue of administrative 4G spectrum allocation to the two telcos, quantum, price and appropriate frequency range.
Expressing surprise at recent developments, the official added that considering the scenario, “the regulator would have come out with its suggestions in the earliest possible manner if it had been asked to do so.”