Indian Broadband Policy and Regulatory Resources

Scarce Resources

According to the TRE survey results, the allocation of frequency for cellular services seemed to be the second most serious concern regarding access to scare resources among respondents. The delay since 2005 in auctioning the 3G license until today has arisen from legal uncertainties surrounding the authority of NTC to allocate frequencies.

In a nutshell, the Radio Frequency Act 2000 stipulated that the frequency allocation is to be conducted jointly by the two commissions, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). While NTC was formed five years after the law was passed, due to complications surrounding the selection process the NBC was never formed. In the absence of the latter, the NTC alone could not allocate frequencies. The NTC’s attempt to hold a 3G auction in September 2010, after legal consultation with the Council of State over whether it has full legal authority to auction the 3G‐2.1GHz spectrum licenses, was challenged by the CAT on the basis that the regulatory body did not have the legal power allocate frequency. The Administrative Court suspended the auction. As it stands, 3G auction will have to wait for the new set of commissioners, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission, established under the new Frequency Act of 2010.