GSM operators delinks from government's spectrum committee

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New Delhi, Dec 7 (UNI) Angered over the manner at which the Committee on spectrum was reviewing the criteria for allocating the scarce radio frequency to telecom operators, the GSM operators today said it would de-link from the panel set up by the government.

Stating that the committee is operating on a pre-determined mindset, the GSM group Cellular Operator Association of India (COAI) said their 'pleas are falling on the deaf ears.' The decision came amidst news reports that telecom minister A Raja is learnt to have cleared changes in licence conditions for grant of letter of intents (LoIs) to companies that applied for telecom licences before September 25 2007.

Minister of State for Communications and IT Shakeel Ahmad told Parliament that issues related to licencing procedures, enhancement of subscriber linked spectrum allocation criteria, spectrum charges, use of dual technology by telecom service providers have been sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Mr Ahmad also said the government has decided not to auction the spectrum for 2G services at present and to grant new Unified Acces Services (UAS) Licenses as per the exisiting guidelines.

On 3G, he said, the government has announced the guidelines for 3G services which among others provide that 3G licenses would be granted through a controlled, simultaneous ascending e-auction, to ensure transparency in the selection process.

He said DoT has not formed any committee to study the 3G spectrum pricing and allocation.

However, based on the recommendations of an internal committee which had examined TRAI recommendation on 3G spectrum pricing and allocation the government announced broad guidelines for 3G policy.

Recently, telecom tribunal Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has rejected affidavit filed by the COAI, which accused the government of changing its policy on the spectrum allocation in a 'covert and malafide' manner.

Rejecting the plea, TDSAT Chairman Justice Arun Kumar said it will complicate the issue further adding that they would take stock later during the hearing.

In its additional affidavit, the COAI had said crossover allocation of spectrum is not permissible under the existing policy and licencing regime and the policy change has been carried out in a covert and legally malafide manner.

UNI

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