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DoT to seek Trai views on spectrum allocation to railways: Official

DoT to seek Trai views on spectrum allocation to railways: Official
The radio waves in 700 Mhz band considered premium for long distance mobile communications as it required less number of mobile towers to provide services compared to 3G and 4G services. Image Credit: Pixabay

The Department of Telecom will seek views of telecom regulator Trai on the allocation of spectrum worth Rs 65,000 crore to Indian Railways without auction, a top official said Tuesday. "Indian Railways has asked for 10 Mhz of spectrum in 700 Mhz band for setting up public safety and security service. The Digital Communications Commission has decided that the DoT should take a view of Trai in the matter," Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan told reporters after the meeting of the Digital Communications Commission (DCC).

The radio waves in 700 Mhz band considered premium for long distance mobile communications as it required less number of mobile towers to provide services compared to 3G and 4G services. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has recommended base price of Rs 6,568 crore per megahertz of radiowaves in 700 Mhz band implying the total value of airwaves is around Rs 65,680 crore at the reserve price.

The frequency band is earmarked for mobile services and allocating it to Indian Railways for non-commercial use may also adversely impact levies like adjusted gross revenue, spectrum usage charges and licence fee collected. Besides, the DCC, formerly Telecom Commission, in its meeting held Tuesday decided to allow government's engineering and consultancy firm Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL) to raise funds by diluting 25 per cent stake.

"The DCC decision is in line with that of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs to disinvest 25 per cent in the company. TCIL had requested to carry on a piggyback transaction of 10 per cent which DCC approved. TCIL has been allowed to retain fund raised from 10 per cent stake for working capital and rest of the 15 per cent will go to the government," Sundararajan said. In a move to boost setting up of VSAT based network, the DCC reduced entry fee on VSAT to Rs 15 lakh from Rs 30 lakh and waived the fee of Rs 16 lakh that organisations required to pay for each VSAT hub thereafter.

Further, the DCC approved bringing of audio-conferencing service under the ambit of telecom licence as it was once used by a company to provide free calls on mobile phones though app by using landline connections. Calls made from landline connections do not attract any interconnection usage charges while it is charged between mobile to a mobile call made on different networks.

The DCC also rejected a proposal of Trai to create data aggregators as it felt already many players are doing similar work and the commission decided against creating a new category for data services under telecom licences.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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