Vodafone wants withdrawal of 'discriminatory' spectrum auction guidelines
Controversies have already started to chase the second round of specturm auction, slated to begin March 2013 with telecom giant Vodafone demanding roll back of the guidelines for the bidding recently issued by the government.
Vodafone alleges the guidelines are “illegal, discriminatory and benefiting one set of players” as the base price for 900MHz have been fixed about three times higher than that of 800MHz. The company says the base prices fixed are higher than the international benchmarks.
“They are discriminatory and as they fix the reserve price of 900Mhz at three times the price of 800Mhz when TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) recommended that both these bands be treated at par and in fact treat 800Mhz as even cheaper than 1,800Mhz, thus selectively benefiting one set of players,” Vodafone says in a Telecom Secretary R. Chandrashekhar, without taking names of the companies.
It's notable the Department of Telecom (DoT) will be holding bidding for the 900MHz spectrum in March, which is about 18 months before the Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata licences of operators including Bharti Airtel Ltd, Vodafone and Idea Cellular Ltd are slated to expire.
“Since the same spectrum is already being used expeditiously and extensively in its networks, it cannot be put out for auction, in the manner stated in the guidelines, which implies forcible withdrawal of spectrum from the existing service provider,” Vodafone said in the letter.
LiveMint reports the government will be soon responding to the letter sent by Vodafone. “The spectrum does not belong to the operators in perpetuity, but is leased to them. These rules have been cleared by the empowered group of ministers as well as the Cabinet,” the site quotes a DoT official as saying.
Vodafone's scathing letter comes in the wake of the government guidelines for the second round of spectrum auction released this month. The government is hoping to make more than Rs. 9500 crore from CDMA spectrum bidding.
It's notable the operator had already sought extension of its 900MHz operating licences for Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata circles by next 10 years. The telecom operator has invoked clause 4.1 of the licence agreement, which says "the licensor may extend, if deemed expedient, the period of licencee by 10 years at one time, upon request of the licencee, if made during 19th year of the licence period on terms mutually agreed."
Source: The Hindu
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