Dual technology licence: Centre refuses to cancel GSM allotment

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 20 2012, 08:24am hrs
The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that there is no reason for it to take back GSM spectrum allocated to Reliance Communications, Sistema Shyam and HFCL in 2007 and redistribute the same through auctions as sought by the Cellular Operators Association of India.

The COAI had said that in the light of the apex courts decision on February 2, which cancelled 122 licences granted by the former telecom minister A Raja in 2008, the GSM spectrum should be taken back and re-distributed through auction in terms of the ruling.

The industry body representing leading GSM operators had sought to quash the DoT's decision of October 18, 2007 that allowed the three telecom companies to offer services on both GSM and CDMA platforms, saying such decision was arbitrary and and malafide.

DoT in its affidavit filed before the apex court stated that the subject matter and the scope of the COAI's appeal is totally different from that of February 2 order as the licences given to these telecom operators are technology neutral i.e. the licensee can use both the GSM and or the CDMA technology.

Rubbishing COAI's application as totally misconceived and based on a misreading of the February 2 judgment, the reply filed by the DoT, said that the department had permitted the use of GSM technology by CDMA operators and vice-versa on the basis of the Trai recommendation of August 28, 2007 that allowed such dual use.

It further added that the DoTs decision was also upheld by the telecom tribunal in March 2009.

Meanwhile, Idea Cellular and its shareholder Manish Akant has also moved the Supreme Court challenging the government's decision to restrict the sale of airwaves in the upcoming auctions and seeking a direction to the government to sell all airwaves vacated as per the February 2 judgement.

While the order freed up 514.8 Mhz of 2G spectrum on a pan-India basis, the government has decided to limit the sale to 302.5 Mhz. The actions are scheduled to begin on November 12 and the government has already released the information memorandum.