Indian mobile operators will not be required to get permission from the country’s government to trade spectrum under new proposals from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
Sources told The Economic Times that companies will instead only need to inform the authorities of any deals to transfer spectrum six weeks ahead of the trade and pay a 1 per cent transfer fee based on the market price or the price for which the spectrum is sold.
The new rules will apply to spectrum awarded on or after 2010, or if the seller paid the market price for the spectrum to the government.
The buyers of spectrum must not acquire the equivalent of more than 25 per cent of its total spectrum holding or 50 per cent within a given band in a particular service area.
Once traded, spectrum will not be eligible to be sold again for two years.
Operators met with TRAI chairman Rahul Khullar this week to discuss the guidelines and their implementation, with the proposals expected to be published in the next few days.
A spectrum auction scheduled for this month will include the participation of India’s two largest operators, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone, and has the prospect of bringing a bumper return for the government.
According to a number of media reports, the big guns have submitted applications by the 15 January deadline to battle for 900 MHz and 1800 MHz frequencies.
In November, the Indian government put a reserve price on 900MHz spectrum that was 25 per cent higher than recommended by TRAI. In addition, a government panel set a price for 1.8 GHz spectrum that is 15 per cent higher than that backed by the TRAI.