TDSAT to hear on spectrum allocation tomorrow

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New Delhi, Nov 11 (UNI) Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) will tomorrow start hearing on the petition filed by GSM lobby Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) against the government's decision to allow usage of ''dual spectrum'' to telecom firms within the same licence.

GSM players had alleged that the Telecom Ministry's dual technology spectrum policy of October 19 will allow pan-India CDMA player Reliance to jump the queue of 575 applicants to stake its claim for precious GSM spectrum by paying an entry fee of Rs 1,651.57 crore.

COAI last week filed additional affidavits before the TDSAT, questioning the authenticity of the expert committee report and allocation of additional spectrum to state-run firms BSNL and MTNL.

In his letter to DoT secretary, D S Mathur, Sunil Mittal, the current head of CII and chairman of Bharti Airtel (India's largest mobile operator), has already expressed an outrage.

This came against the backdrop of the DoT granting an 'in-principle' approval to the Telecom Engineering Centre's (TEC) recommendations that telcos be mandated to increase their subscriber numbers between 4-15 times before they are granted additional spectrum.

The government had earlier hinted that it is ready to start fresh negotiations with GSM players over the new telecom policy which talks about tightening of the subscriber-linked spectrum allocation norms. But the GSM operators have to first withdraw their petition, challenging the new policy from telecom tribunal TDSAT before November 12, the next date of hearing.

Meanwhile, Chennai-based Aircel has already withdrawn from the petition. It has been under the scanner for the FDI violations and holds 14 licences without spectrum. Sources say Spice Telecom may also withdraw.

Amid the controversy over spectrum allocation, the Government on Tuesday ordered a review of the recommendations of Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC).

The committee would recommend the revision of present 'Spectrum Allocation Criterion' to licensed operators based on the subscriber figures in a scientific and practicable manner.

The government, earlier, through its counsel Solicitor General G E Vahanavati, had assured TDSAT that no spectrum would be given to any player till November 12.


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