Four telecom chiefs to meet Sibal on spectrum pricing controversy

New Delhi, May 2: Union Telecommunications Minister Kapil Sibal is likely to meet the chiefs of four telecom companies-Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Telenor-on Wednesday.

The heads of these four telecom firms are likely to air their concerns over the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendations on spectrum auction.

Bharti Airtel Chairman and Managing Director Sunil Bharti Mittal, Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao, Telenor CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas and Idea Cellular Chairman Kumar Managalam Birla are to meet Sibal.

“It (the meeting) is on their concerns over Trai’s recommendation,” the Ministry of Telecommmunications said.

The GSM players have been protesting the steep hike in spectrum price recommended by sector regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The quantum of spectrum to be auctioned and a slew of other issues are also expected to come up for discussion.

The TRAI’s recommendations have evoked sharp reactions from telecom players. Norway-based Telenor has even indicated that it might withdraw its business operations from India if the TRAI recommendations are accepted by the government.

TRAI had on April 23 recommended a base price of Rs 3,622 crore for a megahertz of pan-India spectrum, which is around 10 times higher than the price at which 2G licences were allocated in 2008 under the then Telecom Minister A Raja.

According to the recommendations, a minimum of 5 Mhz should be allotted, which means that pan-India spectrum in 1800 MHz band will cost Rs 18,000 crore. The reserve price is five times the base price of Rs 3,500 crore for 3G auction. (ANI)