Telcos are divided on how to allocate spectrum for aircraft to ground station data communication services provided by entities other than the Airports Authority of India (AAI). While all three operators agreed such spectrum should be brought under the licensing regime, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea want the allocation to be through an auction. Bharti Airtel, on the other hand, wants the current mechanism of assignment through an administrative basis - or on payment of a fee - to continue.The carriers were responding to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (Trai's) consultation paper, where it had asked for suggestions regarding the mechanism of providing these airwaves to IT and communication vendors to the Indian aviation industry - Societe Internationale de Telecommunications Aeronautiques, (SITA) and Bird Consultancy Services (BCS)."Considering spectrum is a valuable and inexhaustible natural resource as well as having elements of public good, we believe that it is vital to ensure efficient management and use of the spectrum as well as no loss to the national exchequer," Vodafone Idea said.It added that since the spectrum is being given for commercial services to a commercial entity, "it should be allocated through a transparent and open auction process".Jio said that aircraft to ground communication is a critical telecommunication service for aircraft and passenger safety but currently operates on adhoc permission-approval methodology. It added that all telecommunication services being offered in the country need to be offered under a license or authorization under section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act 1885."It is imperative that the data communications between ground radio stations and the aircraft is also brought under the Unified License regime," Jio said, adding that it is also the international precedent on the matter, as mentioned by Trai in its consultation paper.Airtel however suggested continuing with administrative assignment of the frequencies "since the spectrum has limited and restricted usage". The frequency band 117.975-137 MHz is kept reserved by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for air ground and ground-air critical voice and data communications.The operators however agreed on matters of validity of the license, the license area and scope of the license. All three said that the license should be valid for 20 years nationally, and the scope should be restricted to the ground station and radio in the aircraft cockpit.SITA and BCS are the only two companies providing data communication services for aircraft to ground station contact. Voice services for the same are provided by the AAI.