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GSM operators slam centre over frequency allocation norms


New Delhi : Telecom operators offering the GSM technology of mobile phone services Thursday slammed the government over not following the regulator’s recommendations while allocating frequencies.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), representing some of the leading GSM players, expressed its discontent in a letter to the Wireless Planning Commission (WPC), a body responsible for the allocation of the frequencies, for not following the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommendations.

“The order of WPC was issued in supersession of all existing orders and had come into force with immediate effect, i.e. from Jan 9, 2008 – as a result of which there is no prescription, roadmap, entitlement available to GSM operators beyond 7.2 MHz,” COAI said in the letter to P.K. Garg, wireless advisor to the government.

“It may be noted that this is not in consonance with the affidavit filed by DoT (Department of Telecom) before the TDSAT (Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal), wherein it was stated that the TRAI criteria would be accepted as an interim measure, however the said order is in the nature of a final order,” it added.

“TRAI had recommended revised subscriber linkages up to 15 MHz for GSM operators. The WPC order of Jan 9 is in complete variance with this recommendation of TRAI as the DoT had not recommended criteria for allocation of additional spectrum beyond 7.2 MHz per circle for GSM operators.

“Further, it may be noted that for CDMA operators, the subscriber base criteria recommended by TRAI for 5 MHz has been accepted in totality, however, in the case of GSM, a new slab of 7.2 MHz (tranche of 1MHz) has been created, instead of accepting TRAI’s recommendation of 8 MHz,” COAI said.

It also said that this is “also violative of level playing field”.

On the other hand, TRAI had already shot off two strongly worded letters to the DoT, complaining against the latter of selectively choosing some of its recommendation while leaving some.

“It would be unfair and misleading if any decision and consequent action is initiated without identifying and implementing the linkages elsewhere in the recommendation. It was reiterated that the authority should be formally consulted if there is any deviation from the totality of the recommendation,” TRAI had written in its letters dated Oct 15 and 19, 2007.