The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) may file a petition before the Telecom Disputes Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) challenging the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI’s) recommendations on the revised licensing terms announced on August 29, even without waiting for Department of Telecommunication's (DoT) views or action on the recommendations.
COAI executives have already met officials in the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) regarding their grievances on TRAI’s recommendations, but have not given any written representation so far. TRAI freed up entry of more players and set conditions that would force existing cellular mobile phone service operators to consolidate, use wireless spectrum more efficiently and pay higher charges for spectrum.
A COAI official said the association had a legal advisory committee which said that it was not necessary for COAI to wait for DoT's action before approaching the tribunal which is usually resorted to only after a decision or a verdict goes against a concerned party.
Asked if there was a plan to move the TDSAT without waiting for DoT's views, T.V.Ramachandran, COAI's director-general, told Hindustan Times: " We are looking at all aspects."
COAI had expressed disappointment on had called TRAI's recommendations "extremely arbitrary and stringent". It had expressed reservations on a number of issues including allocation and pricing of 2G (second generation) spectrum, especially the tightening of subscriber-linked criterion for allocation of spectrum by four times the current criterion.
TRAI on the other hand is firm on its recommendations given to the Department of Telecommunications on August 29. Reacting to GSM players lobbying against TRAI's recommendations to review the licensing policy, TRAI chairman Nripendra Mishra said, “I have made the recommendations and that is final.”
COAI has cited section 11 (iv) of the TRAI Act, which says that all decisions of TRAI will be taken after a consultation process. The industry body also said that TRAI had never said it was planning to change the subscriber limit norms for mobile telecom operators, implying it was not consulted.
“They have no right to charge. The authority has prestige and I would not like to comment anything more on that,” said Misra reacting to COAI's accusation of lack of transparency in making recommendations.