Telecom Panel Approves Easing Spectrum Limits

The Telecom Commission has decided to relax spectrum holding caps, giving a boost to M&As and spectrum sale, as carriers try to sell assets, including airwaves, to repay debt.

The commission — the highest decision-making body in the communications ministry — also extended the payments tenure for auctioned airwaves from 12 years to 16 years, and lowered the interest rate on penalties on outstanding dues of telcos from 14% to 12%.

The commission, headed by telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan, endorsed the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s proposal to do away with the 50% cap on intra-band spectrum holdings of telcos. Instead, the TC agreed to impose a separate 50% cap on the combined spectrum holdings in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands (sub-1GHz bands).

The TC also backed Trai’s suggestion to increase the overall airwaves holding limit to 35% from 25%. The changes in spectrum holding caps as well as in the payments tenure will have to be approved by the cabinet.

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