The Spectrum controversy is set to escalate further with the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) being now requested to probe the out-of-turn release of spectrum to some telecom operators.
The Telecom Watchdog, a non-government organisation (NGO), has requested the CVC to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the free distribution of spectrum beyond the contracted quantum to private telecom operators.
In a letter dated December 14, the NGO has requested that the commission investigate the role of the officers who had recommended that no additional money should be charged for spectrum enhancement from 8 to 10 megahertz (MHz). In addition, spectrum allocated beyond the ‘maximum’ specified limit in existing contracts should be charged the same entry fee or a spectrum enhancement fee as may be determined for fresh allocation of spectrum, it said
“The department of telecommunication (DoT) has spent about Rs 1,000 crore for spectrum to be vacated from the ministry of defence for commercial use in the telecom sector. Since spectrum has been re-farmed from the defence ministry, it therefore becomes obligatory to use the scarce resource more efficiently and ensure that it is not hoarded by private companies. If any commercial entity is found to be holding spectrum in excess of the contracted amount and their actual requirement, the spectrum must be re-farmed from them,” the letter says.
It has been found that the certain entities are holding spectrum in excess of their actual requirement. In the past, they have managed to secure surplus spectrum by way of administrative orders, without the payment of any spectrum enhancement fee, alleges the NGO.
It has been found that DoT has allocated additional spectrum as high as 10 MHz without first fixing any allocation criteria. In many cases, they have allocated 6.2 MHz spectrum in the first instance itself without following the route of the allocating 4.4 MHz spectrum as the initial tranche, says the letter.
The NGO suggested that the tougher of the two norms – Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) recommendations – should be followed for allocation of spectrum. In addition, spectrum beyond the finally approved norms should re-farmed by the existing operators within six months, it said.