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Cellular players back in court

New Delhi, Nov. 13: Cellular operators today approached the Supreme Court seeking a directive to stop the government from issuing any new telecom service licence.

The cellular operators’ application is expected to be clubbed with the earlier petition filed by them in the Supreme Court on August 10 against the majority judgement of the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) that allowed basic operators to offer limited mobility services as well.

The cellular operators want the court to ask the department of telecommunications to maintain the status-quo of the August 8 order.

“The status quo is being sought to ensure that only limited mobility is allowed as is stated in the August 8 order. The same should be maintained and no other type of service should be offered on the same licence or on a new licence,” legal experts aver.

The cellular operators have criticised the guidelines issued by the DoT on Tuesday and feel that it effectively amends the National Telecom Policy-99. They also complained of unequal competition from fixed service providers who have migrated to a unified licence that allows them to offer both fixed and mobile services.

The cellular industry feels that once migration was offered and accepted by the cellular operators in August 1999, NTP-99 became part and parcel of the contracts of cellular operators and conferred enforceable rights upon them.

According to T. V. Ramachandran, director general of COAI, “The entry fee principles embodied in the guidelines have missed out certain aspects regarding equitable treatment of various types of mobile players, which could affect the orderly growth and development of the sector.”

The guidelines state that all new applications for fixed or cellular services will have to be only in the category of universal access licences.

Tatas apply for UASL

Close on the heels of Reliance, the Tatas today sought unified licences for seven circles, including Bengal, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

Tata Teleservices also applied for conversion of two of its six existing basic telecom licences into a unified licence, DoT officials said.

Telecom secretary Vinod Vaish said, “The DoT has received a request from the Tatas to migrate to the unified licence regime in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. They will not have to pay any extra entry fee as the company had paid surplus in the past.”

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