Jio Submits Legal Opinion to TRAI Regarding Satellite Spectrum Allocation

LI Network

Published on: 31 August 2023 at 12:32 IST

Reliance Jio has conveyed a legal perspective to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) regarding the potential assignment of satellite spectrum. The document, authored by retired Supreme Court Justice KSP Radhakrishnan, advocates for the utilization of auctions in this context.

The Business Standard has meticulously assessed the content of this letter, which references the 2G judgment, emphasizing the Supreme Court’s stipulation that spectrum can only be allocated through auction and not through any alternative means.

The letter stated, “The court’s rationale does not indicate any exception to this conclusion for the utilization of spectrum in satellite-based communication services.”

It highlighted the court’s viewpoint that when natural resources are allocated to private entities for personal gain, the government should strive to optimize its revenue by adopting competitive disposal methods. Any alternative approach could potentially be contested under Article 14 of the Constitution,” the communication asserted.

The letter also addressed proponents of the administrative approach, who contended that the 2G judgment considered auctions to be the “possibly” superior way to manage the allocation of natural resources in a nondiscriminatory manner. However, the letter clarified that the phrase “possibly the best method” signifies the most optimal approach given that satellite communication (satcom) spectrum is a limited, valuable, and renewable natural resource with significant financial implications for the public treasury.

The Broadband India Forum (BIF), a representative body for prominent technology companies like Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with telecom equipment manufacturers such as Ericsson, Cisco, and Huawei, forwarded a similar legal opinion opposing the auctioning of satellite spectrum to Trai. Currently, industry participants are awaiting the final recommendations from Trai on this matter.

Notably, the BIF, which is an advocate for leading tech players and telecom infrastructure providers, consulted with former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to ascertain whether the law mandates satellite spectrum allocation exclusively through auctions. Rohatgi opined that auctioning satellite spectrum might not be the most suitable and efficient method of resource allocation.

During Trai’s last consultation process on this subject in June, influential technology firms including Elon Musk’s Starlink, Amazon’s Project Kuiper, Telesat, Tata Group’s Nelco, Hughes, and Bharti Enterprises’ OneWeb stood united in their opposition to the idea of auctioning satcom spectrum.

Reliance Industries (RIL) is currently engaged in discussions with both international and domestic executive recruitment firms to identify a suitable leader for Jio Financial Services’ newly established insurance division.

RIL representatives have interacted with several firms in recent weeks to identify top talent across life, health, and general insurance domains. Sources indicated that firms like Korn Ferry and Spencer Stuart have been part of these discussions with representatives from the conglomerate, which operates across diverse sectors from petrochemicals to consumer goods.

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