Sunday, January 20, 2008

India - investigation into spectrum decision

Vigilance Commission quizzes DoT

The Central Vigilance Commission has asked the Department of Telecommunications to make a presentation on 28 January on contentious issues arising out of its spectrum-allocation policy, the key being allocation of spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz to existing operators leading to a financial loss to the government.

The CVC missive comes at a time when many service operators have raised the demand that spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz should be surrendered or operators should be made to pay for the additional spectrum.

Some of them have demanded that this additional spectrum should be given to the nine new operators who have recently been issued letters of intent for telecom licence.

According to sources close to the developments, the CVC has asked the DoT to explain the reasons for allocation of higher spectrum.

The DoT will also have to explain why it did not go in for "auctioning" or "imposition of additional entry fee" or "spectrum enhancement charges" from existing operators, while allocating additional spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz.

In addition, the DoT has been asked that even as the licensing norms specified that GSM operators should be given an initial tranche of 4.4 MHz, why it gave start-up spectrum of 6.2 MHz to some service operators.

The CVC has also asked the DoT why was spectrum for services raised from 6.2 MHz to 8 MHz when they reached a subscriber base of 500,000.

This, some have argued, could have resulted in higher spectrum allocation to some operators, given the varying geographical conditions and population density in various parts of the country.

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