GSM operators mounted a fresh offensive on the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Wednesday with a legal notice that aims to stop spectrum allocation until the Delhi High Court starts hearing on it, but DoT officials were unruffled and affirmed they would go ahead in allocating spectrum and licence to new applicants.
The high court is due to start hearing on January 3 the appeal against a ruling by industry tribunal TDSAT that refused to stop spectrum allocation. GSM players that dominate the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) are pulling all stops to try and stall CDMA players as well as new applicants from getting spectrum.
COAI said in its notice that an “attempt to proceed with the allotment of GSM spectrum to CDMA Operators pending Court decision would be an act of impropriety and would amount to over-reaching and pre-empting a Court decision.” While DoT stands firm, spectrum seekers may not get what they want anytime soon. With files moving slowly in the department, no spectrum is likely to be allocated before hearing starts.
“The high court has not put any stay on the allotment of spectrum or LOIs (letters of intent). The Licence Finance department is processing the applications, and we will work at our own speed. Whenever that is complete, we will go ahead with the allocation of Letter of Intents to the applicants”, said a senior official with the DoT, indicating that the authority will not unnecessarily expedite the processing of the applications.
Last Saturday, COAI had approached the Delhi High Court seeking a stay on TDSAT’s decision for lifting a suspension on allocation of spectrum and LoIs to applicants.
In another development, the DoT has accepted the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) subscriber linked criteria for limited spectrum allocation over the tougher one recommended by the Telecom Engineering Centre.
That, however, put a question mark on the fate of a new DoT panel which was constituted to review spectrum issues after the COAI walked out of another panel, creating a stalemate on the issue.
CDMA leader Reliance communications reacting to the development said that DoT had succumbed to the pressure tactics of GSM operators.