National / World

Telecom Honchos to Meet Sibal


New Delhi, May 2 (IANS): Chiefs of top telecom firms, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone, will meet Wednesday evening Communications Minister Kapil Sibal to discuss their concerns following the TRAI's recommendations on spectrum auction.

The meeting will take place at Sibal's residence. It will have Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and managing director, Bharti Airtel, Vittorio Colao, chief executive, Vodafone Group, Jon Fredrik Baksaas, chief executive officer, Telenor, and Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman, Aditya Birla Group, a telecom department official told IANS.

The chiefs met the secretary of the Department of Telecom (DoT) R. Chandrasekhar earlier in the day and are expected to meet Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as well.

On Feb 2, the Supreme Court had ordered the cancellation of 122 telecom licences and asked the government to redistribute the licences through auction.

Now Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come up with recommendations for the auction.

It has proposed the pan-India spectrum reserve price at Rs.3,622.18 crore for a 5 megahertz (Mhz) block in 1800 Mhz band.

It has also said that the auction would be open to all the players, including the incumbents and the new players. Only those firms which are holding spectrum beyond the prescribed cap should not be allowed.

The proposals have received strong criticisms from the industry and sector watchers alike, following which the Telecom Commission has sought more information and clarifications from the regulator on its recommendations.

In a joint letter, the firms last week also urged Sibal not to accept TRAI's recommendation or else the call tariffs would shoot up by 25-30 percent.

They have also requested the minister to reduce the reserve price by about 80 percent and auction all available spectrum.

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