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Tata shoots letter to PM

Tata has proposed that allocation of additional spectrum should be undertaken through a ?National Spectrum Policy?.

india Updated: Apr 27, 2006 02:15 IST

Unhappy with Department of Telecommunications (DoT) not responding to a letter written on April 3 to DoT Secretary JS Sarma, (reported by HT), the Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata has sought redressal from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Attaching the missive written to Sarma and also his earlier correspondence of May 2005 to Communications Minister Dayanidhi Maran on issues relating to spectrum allocation for a fee, Tata has reiterated that a scarce resource like spectrum should be priced and not auctioned. He had stumped the telecom industry by offering to pay Rs 1,500 crore for additional spectrum when the industry was seeking waiver of spectrum charges.

In his letter to Singh, Tata has proposed that allocation of additional spectrum should be undertaken through a ‘National Spectrum Policy’. He has questioned the hastiness on the part of DoT to issue guidelines on spectrum, even as the government has appointed a Group of Ministers (GoM) to look into the issue and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) suggestions too were pending before the government, which were not reflected in the order.

Advocating strongly for another round of meeting of all stakeholders to discuss the issue of spectrum, the letter from Tata states, “I would appeal to you that in the fairness of things, the DoT should at least permit the views of all constituents to be heard and considered before finalising the allocation of any additional spectrum.”

Allaying fears that levy of a fee would result in higher cost to the customers for services, Tata has stated that customer prices are set by the competitive market and not by the costs. He said that a spectrum fee would result in substantial revenue addition to the exchequer.

Launching a scathing attack on the DoT order, which differentiates between GSM and CDMA technologies and aims to curb the introduction and usage of such new technologies to “equalise” or  “protect” users of older technologies, Tata said it would have a devastating impact on the overall technological progress in the country.

Giving an analogy to the DoT’s approach in allocation of additional spectrum to GSM and CDMA operators, Tata in his letter states, “Think of what would happen if airlines flying jet aircraft were forced to fly at reduced speeds and at lower, fuel-guzzling cruising altitudes to ‘equalise’ performance to protect airlines flying slower, turboprop aircraft.”

Urging the Prime Minister to encourage application of latest technologies, Tata has sought to clarify that he is not for or against GSM or CDMA. His only concern is that India should have an approach to adopt newer technologies and not ban them to protect the existing ones.