New Delhi, June 11: The Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (Auspi) — the lobby group of CDMA players — today lashed out at the government proposal to make it compulsory for all operators to match the auction-determined price for their existing 2G airwaves over the remaining period of their licences.
The association, which represents dual-technology telecom firms such as Reliance Communications (R-Com) and Tata Teleservices, wrote a letter to telecom minister Kapil Sibal stating that the proposal was “not legally tenable and completely contrary to the licence conditions to which licensee and licensor were bound”.
The department of telecom (DoT) has prepared a cabinet note that said this “one-time fee” should be imposed on all existing mobile phone companies to create a level-playing field.
“This new proposal puts late entrants such as R-Com and the Tatas at a disadvantage vis-a-vis all those GSM operators who started services in 1994 and 1996 and whose licences are due for renewal between 2014 and 2016,” Auspi said.
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It pointed out that just 8, 10 and 9 licences of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea Cellular, respectively, were due for renewal during 2014-16.
“However, the new proposal is going to impact practically all the licences of our member operators,” the industry body said.
Auspi added that the DoT move would be in full breach of the terms and conditions of the licence agreement. “This new proposal would amount to the unilateral amendment /modification of a material clause of the licence agreement.”
The letter said Auspi and its members reserved the rights to take all appropriate legal remedies.
According to the DoT note, “New players who will come in will pay for entire spectrum, there will be no level-playing field between them and those who received spectrum at administrative price.”
While the government plans to impose this one-time fee prospectively, the cabinet note adds that depending on the outcome of the presidential reference in the apex court, the fee can also be imposed with retrospective effect.