DOT snubs AUSPI for visiting GSM-dominant nations

Written by Corporate Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 17 2009, 05:51am hrs
The department of telecommunications (DoT) has snubbed the CDMA technology service providers lobby, the Association of Unified Service Providers of India (AUSPI) for raising questions over their visit to only GSM dominant countries for studying the issue of spectrum pricing for finalising a report on the same.

In an internal note, DoT has recorded, what has trips got to do with level playing field Visits are as/requirement. The DoT has noted that the committee in its wisdom is free to finalise its report even without visiting abroad. Hence, the foreign visits of the committee are as per requiement and deliberations in the meeting of the committee and may not be linked with level playing field.

A team headed by the additional secretary in the DoT, Subodh Kumar, A K Srivastav, DDG access service and professor Rohit Prasad are a part of the committee that is looking into spectrum pricing issue and are working out a new mechanism to grant additional spectrum to mobile operators.

The committee members undertook a travel to UK and France in March and met the telecom regulators to study their spectrum allocation and pricing processes and draw learning for the Indian government.

Since the committee had visited countries where the GSM technology was dominant, AUSPI in a communication to the DoT later had said that it wasnt fair for the government to finalise a spectrum pricing policy by only visiting GSM technology dominant countries. Hence, it had urged that the committee must undertake a trip to a few CDMA technology dominant countries as well.

The issue of level-play field vis-a-vis CDMA and GSM players with regard to spectrum allocation is an old one.

As per the guidelines, GSM operators such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone get 4.4 Mhz start up spectrum bundled with licence.

After reaching a certain level of subscribers in different circles, operators are given spectrum up to 6.2 Mhz, then 8 Mhz and subsequently 10 Mhz. The maximum, an operator in a metro circle like Delhi can receive is 15 Mhz.

In contrast CDMA operators are given start-up spectrum of 2.5 Mhz followed by chunks of 1.25 Mhz and can get a maximum of 7 Mhz for a circle like Delhi.

The rationale behind this 2:1 ratio is that CDMA is deemed to be more spectrum efficient.

However, CDMA operators say that they should not bepenalised for being spectrum efficient.