New Delhi: Telecom regulator TRAI on Tuesday defended the steep minimum price for auction of 2G spectrum saying the technology has undergone a "sea change" since 2008 and assured that consumers would not be affected much as they will have to pay a maximum of five paisa extra per call.

Appearing before Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chief Rahul Khullar and his predecessor J S Sarma are learnt to have defended the recommendation to auction 2G spectrum at a base price of Rs 3,622 crore for a megahertz of spectrum at pan-India level which is around 10 times higher than the price for 2G licences in 2008.

The recommendation was made when Sarma was heading TRAI.

On the issue of its impact on the consumers, TRAI officials said since the licences are valid for 20 years, it will have a cumulative effect of three to four paisa per minute on calls.

They said the maximum effect will be five paisa per call and consumers won't be affected much due to the high prices recommended by it.

Replying to posers by members, they are understood to have said the 2G technology since 2008 has undergone a "sea change" and "2G of 2008 is not the 2G of 2012."

When some opposition members, including those from the BJP and Left parties, suggested that the latest TRAI recommendation indicated that 2G spectrum in 2008 was allocated at 'throw away' prices, regulator representatives are learnt to have said that the two prices are "not comparable" as 2G spectrum is not the same.

(Agencies)

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