Reliance Communications slams legal notice on government


New Delhi : Even as GSM players turned around and accepted the government’s decision, CDMA major Reliance Communications (RCOM) Thursday slapped a legal notice on the government to stop it from allocating additional radio frequencies to GSM operators.

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This comes after a day of Department of Telecommunications’ (DoT) decision to allocate airwaves or spectrum in multiples of 1 MHz to the operators, based on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) method of subscriber-linked criteria. For this, the DoT will soon file an affidavit in the telecom tribunal and also in the Delhi High Court.

According to RCOM, the DoT should follow the method recommended by the Telecom Engineering Centre, which is more stringent than that of TRAI’s.

TEC recommended raising the subscriber base by up to 15-16 times against TRAI’s 2-6 times.

“Rejecting the TEC norms and accepting TRAI norms is arbitrary and illegal and is also contrary to the earlier decision of the DoT to accept the TEC report,” the legal notice stated.

The Anil Ambani-promoted company also reiterated its demand that excess spectrum held by the GSM players be returned at the earliest.

“Excess spectrum has been allocated to the existing private GSM operators and the government should immediately take action for getting the extra spectrum back from the existing private GSM operators,” it said.

“The DoT should also charge extra fees for the excess spectrum from the date of issue of the spectrum to the date of return of the same,” it added.

The company Thursday had also accused the DoT of “succumbing to private GSM operators’ pressure tactics.”

However, this has obviously spelt good news for the leading GSM operators – Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Spice – who have cautiously welcomed the government’s decision.

“It is reiterated that it is our clear understanding that the TRAI recommended criteria is only an interim solution in order to facilitate a way forward out of the present imbroglio where all spectrum allocations have been frozen for the past several months,” COAI said in a statement here Thursday.

In a related development, Communications and IT Minister A. Raja, in a written note to the DoT, has urged it to take a re-look at the fee to be paid to get the spectrum.

“Since it has been decided to accept TRAI’s subscriber base for allocation of additional spectrum, a decision needs to be taken on spectrum charges,” the note from Raja said.

Operators may be required to pay higher fees for obtaining spectrum beyond a certain limit, DoT officials said.

According to TRAI’s recommendations, spectrum charges in terms of percentage of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) may be increased.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also reiterated this earlier this month, saying the government should not lose earning revenues for the allocation of spectrum, a practice that is followed across the world.