The war of words between new and old GSM players over hoarding of spectrum has begun in right earnest.
On Monday, Tata Teleservices and Reliance Communications (RCom) stated that old operators had been allotted excess spectrum free of cost.
On the other hand, Vodafone Essar has said no licence conditions had been violated in issuing spectrum, and no spectrum has been granted in excess of what was permissible to any mobile operator.
“Old GSM operators took 2G spectrum totally free as recently as May, 2008, to March, 2009. They (old GSM operators) did not even pay for excess spectrum at old rates,” Anil Ambani-led RCom said in a statement.
In a presentation to the government, Tata Teleservices (TTSL) said that old GSM players like Vodafone, Bharti, Idea and Aircel have been allocated 43.8 Mhz of spectrum between 2003 and 2008 for free of cost.
Both RCom and the Tatas were initially pan-India CDMA players, and were later awarded GSM spectrum as per the dual technology policy.
“There has been no violation of license condition in the allotment of additional spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz, and no spectrum in excess of what was permissible has been granted to any mobile operator,” said Vodafone in a statement issued on Monday.
“Over the last decade, spectrum has been allocated by the government to mobile operators based on a subscriber-linked criteria which has been the official established policy of the Government since 2002,” said Vodafone.
Incumbent operators like Bharti, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel, BSNL and MTNL have spectrum beyond the permitted 6.2 MHz in many circles, according to a report of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The regulator wants them to pay for the excess spectrum.