TRAI pro­poses ways to ease do­ing busi­ness in the tele­com sec­tor

Electronics Bazaar - - Industry News -

To im­prove the ease of do­ing busi­ness, the Tele­com Reg­u­la­tory Author­ity of In­dia (TRAI) has pro­posed some new mea­sures.

These in­clude ap­proval for a merged en­tity within 30 days of a go-ahead from the Na­tional Com­pany Law Tri­bunal (NCLT), giv­ing tel­cos up to a year to sur­ren­der or trade ex­cess air­waves in the case of a merger, per­mit­ting trad­ing in all bands which have been put on auc­tion, plus less harsh penal­ties.

If the De­part­ment of Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions (DoT) agrees, the pro­posed merg­ers of Bharti Air­tel and Te­lenor, Voda­fone and Idea Cel­lu­lar, and Bharti Air­tel and Tata Te­le­ser­vices’ mo­bile busi­nesses would all get ap­proval in a short span. In the past, DoT had taken sev­eral months to ap­prove merg­ers be­tween com­pa­nies, even after a green sig­nal from NCLT.

For in­stance, after NCLT ap­proval, the Air­tel-Qual­comm merger ap­proval from DoT took six to seven months, and that of Re­liance Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Sis­tema Shyam Te­le­ser­vices took around four months. In­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives say this de­lay in­creases the un­cer­tainty and op­er­a­tional costs.

TRAI has rec­om­mended that DoT is­sue a def­i­nite time­line, not ex­ceed­ing 30 days after NCLT ap­proval, for writ­ten ap­proval to trans­fer or merge li­cences; it should be part of the merger and ac­qui­si­tions guide­lines.

And, if a merger re­sults in spec­trum hold­ings be­yond the per­mis­si­ble cap, the en­tity should get the op­tion to sur­ren­der or trade the ex­cess within a year. TRAI has also pro­posed that spec­trum trad­ing be per­mit­ted in all bands put to auc­tion, the per­mis­si­ble block size be­ing the same as spec­i­fied in the no­tice invit­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for the lat­est auc­tion.

“DoT should de­vise a suit­able ma­trix, link­ing fi­nan­cial penal­ties to the sever­ity of a vi­o­la­tion and its re­cur­rence,” TRAI sources said.

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