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Tussle over prime spectrum

New Delhi, Feb. 20: Vodafone India today moved the Delhi high court against the department of telecom’s (DoT) decision to auction its 900MHz spectrum. The move has cast a cloud on the Centre’s plan to auction the coveted airwaves next month.

Analysts said other companies holding 900MHz spectrum, including Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular, were also expected to move court, and the government might not be able to conduct the auctions next month.

DoT officials, however, said the March 11 auctions would begin on schedule and there was no change in the rules.

The government will put on the block spectrum in the 900MHz band in Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta circles. The Centre will also auction spectrum in 1,800MHz and 800MHz bands.

“Vodafone believes that it is entitled to a fair and reasonable extension of its licence according to mutually agreeable terms. Both the policy and licence provide for continuity and this action of the DoT to arbitrarily withdraw the 900MHz spectrum is not only against the provisions of policy and licence but also disruptive and against public interest,” a spokesperson for Vodafone said.

The company said the DoT move came at a time Vodafone’s applications for licence extension were pending.

Vodafone had in December sought an extension of its licence for Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta, which are coming up for renewal in November 2014.

The telecom operator has sought the extension under clause 4.1 of the licence agreement, under which the government can offer a one-time extension of 10 years if the request is made by the operator during the nineteenth year of the licence period.

 
 
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