Urgently auction available spectrum, says Assocham

New Delhi : Industry lobby Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) Tuesday suggested to the Narendra Modi government to auction available spectrum, reduce regulatory costs, and extend benefits of infrastructure status to reinvigorate the telecom sector.

The plan was spelled out as a part of four-pronged telecom strategy paper, suggestions for new government to reinvigorate telecom industry and revive investor sentiment, submitted to new Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Support TwoCircles

Assocham urged the new government to immediately auction all available spectrum which can usher in socio-economic benefits of over Rs.2 lakh crore (excluding proceeds from auctions) lying idle with the government in 700, 800, 900, 1800 and 2100 MHz bands.

“All available spectrum must be auctioned immediately, ideally in a big-bang auction or in a short timeframe by delivering benefits to society and revenues for government.”

The association expressed an urgent need to implement Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) guidelines on trading and sharing of spectrum, and said a clear roadmap should also be laid down for future release of spectrum.

In terms of infrastructure support to the sector, the paper pointed that a uniform low-cost right of way charge for towers and optical fibres should be rolled out, as well as, assured availability of grid power at industrial rates should be given to the sector.

The lobby added that there is a need to provide impetus to domestic manufacturing in telecom sector by reviewing and rationalising levies on equipment manufacturing, incentivising exports coupled with favourable policy support.

“Refund of excise duty for domestically manufactured mobile handsets, their components, parts and accessories would boost manufacturing, besides focus should also be laid on research and development (R&D) initiatives to promote innovation in telecom sector,” the paper added.