GSM incumbents Spice Communications and Idea Cellular, who are in the queue for spectrum to expand their footprint, have written to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), seeking priority in the allotment of the start-up GSM spectrum before it is allotted to new applicants, especially Reliance and the Tatas.
Spice and Idea wrote in to DoT secretary D.S. Mathur on Thursday, when GSM leaders Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar announced they will be filing a petition in the Delhi High Court over telecom tribunal TDSAT’s decision to lift a stay on spectrum allocation to any of the new applicants.
In October, the DoT had permitted telecom operators to offer both GSM and CDMA mobile services under the same licence. Since the CDMA operators Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices, had applied for the GSM spectrum under the existing licence, Idea and Spice fear that CDMA leaders Reliance and Tata Teleservices may receive priority in spectrum allocation as part of their diversification into GSM services.
Spice Communications, which is present only in Punjab and Karnataka circles, had applied for licences to run operations in 20 more circles in August 2006.
“We caution the DoT to take note that no GSM LOIs or initial spectrum allocation pertaining to applications subsequent to ours of August 2006 for the said 20 circles be entertained until our company’s applications, along with associated initial spectrum, are first disposed,” said the letter written by Spice Communications.
To expand operations across the country, Idea Cellular, which has licences for 13 service areas, had also applied for licences to serve nine more zones (Tamil Nadu-including Chennai, Karnataka, Punjab, Orissa, West Bengal, Kolkata, Assam, North East, and J&K) in June 2006.
‘The DoT was required to issue Letters of Intent by 25 July, 2006. In any event, it is now over 500 days from the date of applications. Meanwhile we have sent 8 letters of reminder, apart from 7 personal meetings,” said the letter written by Idea Cellular.
DoT has already approved spectrum for Idea Cellular in Mumbai and Bihar circles, where it had the licences but no spectrum to roll out operations.