No floor price; auction before March: Telecom Secy.
New Delhi, Nov. 25 (IANS): Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash on Monday said no reference has been sent to TRAI on setting floor price on tariffs and the Digital Communications Commission will meet in the second half of December where it may take up the issue of spectrum auctions.
Tariffs are under TRAI and under forbearance and the government cannot intervene. There is no reference from DoT to TRAI on any floor price for tariffs, Prakash said.
At present, mobile tariffs are under forbearance, which means operators have a free hand in fixing rates as they only have to report tariff plans to TRAI within seven days of the launch.
The issue of floor price was being discussed by a secretary panel as a step to check further erosion of losses by the telcos and to boost the financial health of the sector. The panel has already submitted its recommendations where a two-year moratorium was given to telcos on spectrum dues payment.
He also added the DoT is trying to hold the auction in the current fiscal.
“That’s the target to hold auction in this fiscal”, Prakash said adding spectrum price issues have to be discussed within DoT.
Post AGR, the secretary said the department will try to recover legitimate dues that the telcos owed to the government. On the issue of non telecom companies coming under AGR, he said DoT has been collecting licence fees and spectrum fees not just from telcos but also from non-telecom companies like PGCIL, Gail, and RailTel.
Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices have filed review petitions before Supreme Court against the AGR order where they have been asked to cough up approximately INR 1.02 lakh crore together.
In 2017 when Reliance Jio entered the telecom space with free data and voice tariffs there was near mayhem in the sector when existing telcos approached the regulator to consider setting up a floor price as their revenue streams started shrinking. Back then, TRAI had said a floor price “was not a workable idea” and, subsequently, operators too were in agreement.
Floor price means it will be a loose intervention by the state on price. Prices are seen as market forces dynamics.