The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Furore over unified licence

New Delhi, Sept. 1: Cellular operators today opposed the government’s move to bring in a unified licence regime and alleged that the consultation paper by Trai shows a predetermined mind that violates policy and contractual rights and pre-empts Parliamentary process.

In a submission to Trai, the Cellular Operators’ Association of India said that this exercise by regulator does not fall within the purview of the existing telecom policy — NTP-99 — which clearly provided for service-specific licensing of telecom services.

The association has also pointed out that there was already a well-considered holistic process in the form of the Communications Convergence bill which is now before Parliament and that the Authority’s pre-empts a Parliamentary process.

“There is no rationale for overturning the present policy and licensing regime, which already provided for full deregulation in all telecom sectors,” said T. V. Ramachandran, director general of COAI.

The operators also pointed out that the advantages listed by the Authority to justify unified licensing were either already available to stakeholders (sharing of infrastructure) or too trivial to justify overturning the licensing regime (common bill, common customer care number).

COAI said there was no bar on the operators from entering into commercial tieups with other service providers to provide such common services to consumers.

“What is the logic of first seeking to increase the number of mobile operators through unified licensing and then trying to reduce them by facilitating mergers and acquisitions,” asked Ramachandran.

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