With the exit of Tata Teleservices from Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the oldest industry lobby association representing GSM operators, the differences between new and old operators have come out in the open.
Three old operators — Bharti Airtel, Idea and Vodafone — jointly have more than 50 per cent votes in the association while the new operators — Videocon, Uninor, Loop Telecom, S Tel, and Etisalat — have no say in its decisions.
The big three have 11 votes each, awarded on the basis of revenues. Hence they jointly account for 33 votes, out of a total 59. With Tata’s exit the total has reduced to 57.
"Such is the voting process that even upon rejection by new members, the proposal still sails through, courtesy the voting by key older members," said Anand Dalal, vice-president, Tata Teleservices, in the resignation letter to COAI.
For example, in the case of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recent recommendations on 2G spectrum, old and new operators have opposite views. TRAI recommended that all GSM operators should pay for the excess spectrum they own. This does not suit old operators as all of them have excess spectrum. However, new operators support TRAI.
Similarly, COAI was opposed to the decision of permitting dual technology to all operators.