The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which groups GSM telephony operators such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, Idea, Aircel and Spice, on Tuesday formally filed a petition challenging changes in the telecom rules announced by the government last week.
The association, suspecting unfair action, also called for confidential notings in government files on the issue as it took on the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), which implements recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
Industry sources say that in case the petition fails to get admitted in the tribunal, COAI may exercise the Right To Information to find out the details and the manner in which policy changes were made.
The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) will decide on Wednesday whether to admit COAI’s petition.
COAI says DoT should have approached the cabinet on its decision and also questioned if there was an agreement between the Communications Minister and the Telecom Commission.
“It is submitted that the Hon’ble Tribunal may like to call for the necessary records /files of the DoT in this regard,” COAI’s petition said.
“The problem is not in the formality of taking the decision. The content does not resolve the existing issues and is a patchwork measure,” industry analyst Mahesh Uppal told
The policy does not address issues such as the allotment of licences to the 46 new telecom aspirants, a time-frame for allotment of spectrum, merger and acquisition guidelines etc.
The GSM operators have not only objected to DOT’s green signal to CDMA operators Reliance and Tatas into the GSM space, they are also upset in the manner in which the GSM licence was given to Reliance. According to industry sources, the in-principle approval was faxed to the CDMA operators at about 6:30 pm, just 30 minutes after a meeting of Telecom Commission got over on October 18.
Reliance had applied for the letter of intent by the next day, paid the entry fee of Rs 1651 crore and applied for spectrum with the Wireless Planning Cell of DoT.
Industry sources say, COAI has also objected to further allocation of spectrum to BSNL.