Indian regulator TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has called for the relaxation of spectrum caps to ease the burden on operators facing mounting debt and plunging revenue.
The regulator has proposed raising the overall spectrum ownership limit to 35%, up from the current 25% limit. In addition, it has indicated that it may ease rules which stipulate that a single operator may hold a maximum of 50% of spectrum in a particular band within a single service area (of which India has 22).
Reportedly, this cap could be revised to allow operators to hold no more than 50% of the combined spectrum across the 700MHz, 800MHz and 900MHz bands within a given service area. It is noteworthy that TRAI’s suggested changes would enable Vodafone India and Idea Cellular to retain their entire spectrum holdings post-merger, as well as allowing Reliance Jio to obtain more 800MHz spectrum.
TRAI’s proposals form part of a wider plan being drawn up by India’s Department of Telecom to bring about changes that will improve the health of the country’s telecoms industry, which has seen its fortunes ailing of late.