New telecom aspirants have many hurdles to cross before they actually get a licence to offer services. The government has signalled they will have to fulfill further requirements and also probably wait for spectrum.
An internal note of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) which talks of the authority’s view on Letters of Intent (LOI) presented to the Standing Committee on Communications and information Technology on December 6 indicates that getting a Letter of Intent does not means that it would lead automatically to the allotment of a Universal Access Service License(UASL).
“Since the applications are very large in number, a comprehensive evaluation has not been done and shall be completed after taking detailed clarification/ compliance/ documents from the applicants along with LOI,” says the note obtained by Hindustan Times.
DoT has also re-drafted the LOIs in view of large number of applications and these will be legally vetted by the Legal Advisor at DoT. A clause saying, ‘spectrum allocation is not guaranteed and shall be subject to availablity’ will be inserted.
The current format of LOIs does not mention allocation of spectrum. In the past, LOIs had guaranteed a licence bundled with spectrum.
The DoT note mentions release of spectrum by defence authorities as a point, while a new panel was set up this week on criteria for spectrum allocation – with the fresh idea of auctions being mooted after a round of start-up allocation.
The applicants will also have to wait for the panel, this time under K Sridhar, Member (Technology) at DoT, to submit its report.
Most of the applicants that had applied for a telecom licence by September 25, and are hoping to get LOIs, are those who do not have experience in running telecommunications services.
Their track records – or lack of it – could also come into question.