The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has taken a U-turn from its earlier stand on the 2G spectrum allocation policy and has decided to take a fresh look at Tata telecom’s claim regarding seniority in spectrum allocation.
In an affidavit before TDSAT in December 2010, the DoT has agreed to re-consider Tata’s case as an existing licence holder and re-position it in the list of seniority.
This means as and when DoT has spectrum for allocation, Tata would be considered first.
The DoT’s shift in stand, which came after Kapil Sibal took over as telecom minister in November 2010, is likely to affect other telecom players including Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless that were the beneficiaries of earlier policy during A Raja’s tenure. The latest affidavit has been filed in response to Tata’s plea seeking a correction in the policy that moved it lower in the seniority list, below new entrants such as Swan and Unitech Wireless.
Interestingly, DoT’s present stand is contrary to its August 2008 affidavit settled by then solicitor general GE Vahanvati. The earlier affidavit filed in TDSAT showed Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless up in the priority list. The affidavit was filed when the tribunal was hearing a Cellular Operators’ Association of India petition that challenged permission to Reliance Infocomm to start GSM operations. Reliance (ADAG) was till then operating on CDMA.
The affidavit showed Tata Teleservices at number six position as its seniority was considered from the date of application, March 4, 2008 and not January 1, 2008, the day when the company actually applied for licence.