ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Beyond WLL Squabble

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The roots of the current controversy over allowing basic telecom service providers to offer limited mobility lie in the country’s flawed telecom policy that segments the market for communication services by not only region but also type of service. Given the fast pace at which different modes of communication are converging, driven by technology, it is counterproductive to raise artificial barriers between types of services. The telecom sector needs to be unified to achieve efficiency of scale and synergy between different kinds of services. A single licence that enables the licensee to offer any kind of communication service anywhere in the country using any technology would end the present controversy, when complemented with a rational policy of spectrum allocation.

Cellular service operators object to basic service providers being permitted to offer limited mobility through WLL on two counts. One is that they have been issued licences for mobile services, treating mobile services as distinct from fixed line services and it would be a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of their licence terms to bring in limited mobility operations on the part of basic service providers. And this would be in addition to the intense competition in the cellular service sector among the four licensed operators per circle. The second objection is that basic service providers are being offered a chunk of the electromagnetic frequency spectrum free of charge, whereas cellular operators have paid through the nose, via their steep licence fees in the prerevenuesharing days, for the frequency spectrum allotted to them. Therefore, the present move to induct fresh competition in the mobile service segment through the WLL service by basic service providers amounts to unfair competition. These complaints are unfounded.

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