Raja to meet telecom heads on Nov 21

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New Delhi, Nov 16 (UNI) Telecom Minister A Raja and Department of Telecom (DoT) Secretary D S Mathur will meet telecom companies heads on November 21 which is expected to resolve the ongoing controversy over spectrum allocation.

In a related development, telecom stakeholders Mr Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman, AV Birla and Idea Cellular Managing Director Sanjeev Aga today met PMO officials to apprise them on the current spectrum scenario.

The meeting comes in the wake of the spectrum issue threatening to snowball into a another ugly episode in the telecom sector, DoT sources said.

GSM-lobby Cellular Association of India (COAI) has also expressed their displeasure over the developments on spectrum allocation.

Mr Raja has expresed anguish over some of his cabinet colleagues who are in not in favour of the decision.

Earlier in the day, the telecom panel which met to formulate new spectrum allocation criteria norms remained inconclusive and will meet again on November 26 and 30.

The new committee set up had been assigned to review the recent report of the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC), which had proposed tightening of existing norms by 7-14 times.

''The meeting remained inconclusive and we are going to meet again on November 26 and 30 to discuss the issue,'' GSM-lobby Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) Director General T V Ramachandran told reporters here.

The committee is being headed by Mr R Bandopadhyay, additional secretary, telecom. The other members are Mr P K Garg (wireless advisor, telecom ministry), Mr Vijay Madan (executive director, C-DOT), Mr Bhaskar Ramamurthy (IIT-Chennai), Mr Ajitkumar Chathurvedi (IIT-Kanpur) and Mr A K Srivastava (DoT).

A representative each from the COAI and Association of Unified Service Providers of India (CDMA body) is also in the committee.

Meanwhile, the telecom tribunal TDSAT has directed the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) not to issue fresh letters of intent (LoIs) for spectrum allocation till December 12, the next date of hearing on a petition filed by COAI.

Going against telecom regulator TRAI's recommendations, the Government had early this week announced immediate release of spectrum for third generation (3G) mobile and said the scarce commodity will be available for all stakeholders.

Mr Raja said the auctioning process will be open to all, which would effectively mean that existing, new and foreign players can bid for the spectrum.

Mr Mathur said about 30 MHz spectrum can be released to accommodate three players in the first phase.

There is adequate spectrum available for 3G services but said he will not permit merger of the 3G players for five years, the minister said.

The government has also decided to release spectrum for broadband wireless access (WiMax) services to provide enhanced services in rural areas.

UNI

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