The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), shrugging off court disputes involving a threat from GSM operators, has gone ahead and allocated spectrum for Reliance Communications which is diversifying from CDMA operations. The authority has gone ahead allocating GSM spectrum to Reliance Communications in 14 circles, with 5 permits issued on Thursday and 9 on Friday.
"We have received in-principle approval for allocation of spectrum," said a source in R-Com.
DoT has also allotted start-up spectrum to Aircel, Idea and Vodafone to operate in the circles for which they had the licence since December 2006, but were in a queue for spectrum. Aircel was allocated spectrum in 4 circles on Thursday. Idea Cellular received spectrum in two circles and Vodafone got it in 7 circles on Friday.
On Thursday, the authority had also paved the way for the entry of Tatas into the GSM space and offered Letters of Intents to 8 new telecom aspirants.
GSM operators Bharti Airtel, Idea and Vodafone on the other hand, struggling to save the turf for themselves, filed an affidavit in the High Court on Friday asking for a stay on the release of new spectrum announced on Thursday. The court refused and set hearings in the case for next Monday.
GSM operators fear that a delay in the pronouncement of the court order may work in Reliance's favour.
Idea, whose application of June 2006 for 9 telecom licences was finally cleared only on Thursday, has also written to the DoT' secretary that it should get spectrum on priority.
The applicants for telecom licence fear that whosoever deposits the fee will get a priority in getting spectrum from the Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) wing of DoT. Meanwhile, Bycell, another telecom aspirant, which had applied for 5 telecom circles, was denied LoIs despite filing an application in January 2006, cried foul and said that despite getting the Foreign Investment Promotion Board approval, it did not receive any LOIs.