The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Solution eludes spectrum

New Delhi, Nov. 21: The meeting between mobile industry honchos and the department of telecom (DoT) today ended with no concrete decision on spectrum allocation norms.

The DoT also did not offer GSM players any respite from the tight subscriber norms proposed by its technical wing, the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC).

Sanjeev Aga, managing director of Idea Cellular, said, “Today’s meeting was only a preliminary discussion session on spectrum allocation issues. The DoT did not offer any concrete proposal on allocation norms.”

GSM operators told the DoT that the government had failed in providing a level-playing-field to them in spectrum vis-à-vis CDMA players.

They were willing to negotiate on spectrum, but only after the DoT introduces a subscriber-linked criterion for extra spectrum in CDMA.

Sources said the operators had sought telecom minister A. Raja’s intervention.

The operators said they had no intention of withdrawing the litigations filed with the telecom tribunal.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) had earlier challenged the government’s new telecom norms, including the move to allow operators to offer both GSM and CDMA technology and raise subscriber requirements for extra spectrum in GSM.

In its petition before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), the COAI said the technology and subscriber requirement norms favoured CDMA player Reliance Communications.

GSM players also contested the out-of-turn spectrum allocation to state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited and Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Limited.

Following their protests, the DoT had set up a committee to review the norms of the TEC.

The DoT had said that the committee would come out with fresh allocation norms that were “scientific and practicable”.

The government had hoped that following the setting up of the committee, GSM players would withdraw their petitions and negotiate on spectrum.

However, GSM players maintain that the TEC report is aimed at destroying a performing sector by denying them the right to offer quality services at affordable prices.

The TDSAT today refused to accept an affidavit filed by the COAI that accuses the government of changing the telecom policy in a “covert and malafide” manner.

The TDSAT today did not take cognisance of the COAI affidavit. The association will be asked to take it back, sources said.

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