The Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) has written to the government asserting equitable distribution of work and subsidy for all four access services providers leaving no scope for monopoly with regard to the government’s initiative of connecting 43,000 unconnected villages.

In a letter to the new telecom secretary, COAI has pledged for full support in collaborating with the government for acceleration of mobile connectivity. COAI has further highlighted that the scheme should not become a profiteering scheme and rather be focused on compensation of cost. Further, COAI has mentioned there should be no duplication of infrastructure and only one telecom player should build tower infrastructure which will further be shared by all other operators. It added that about 60 per cent of the subsidy should be given upfront and the balance 40 per cent on a quarterly basis.

It has also suggested that the lowest bidder should become the lead bidder and should be awarded both passive and active work, and the second-lowest bidder should become the second operator and be subsidised only for active equipment. Moreover, no operator should be awarded more than 35 per cent of the bidding units/villages as a lead operator, COAI said.