Well, doesn’t everybody? But the thing is, BSNL being a public sector company, just might get it. ET reports that the telco has sought an entry or licence fee exemption for WiMax, using the reasoning that it’s largely going to provide these services in rural India. Private telecom operators, on the other hand have to pay a reserve price of Rs. 10 crores for A circles, Rs. 5 crores for B circles and Rs. 2 crores for C circles.
The question is – how accountable is BSNL for its earlier promised rollouts? BSNL isn’t allowed to operate in the metro circles, but isn’t it going to provide WiMax services in B and C circles like the private telcos? Frankly, if BSNL is exempt from paying a fee for B and C circles, so should private telcos. I think TRAIs neutrality is again under the scanner.
Update: COAI, the GSM operators association, wants the spectrum for WiMax to be priced the same as 3G, while Reliance Communications and Intel (NSDQ: INTC) want it to be lowered, reports the Hindu. I think it’s a difference of perspective – if you’re viewing WiMax as a threat to Mobile services, then you would obviously push for a level playing field. If you’re looking at it for just broadband services – then you’d want it cheaper.
The TRAI appears to have shifted its stand, according to the report – while they were initially in favour of differential pricing for 3G and WiMax, they’re now looking to review this policy. I think there’s so much of flip-flop and posturing on policy initiatives, that there’s serious fatigue. We’ve been sitting on 3G, 4G and IPTV policy for too long, which is indicative of the lobbying since the stakes are too high. By the time a decision is taken, the technology would have probably evolved to the next generation.