After the Cellular Operators Association of India, now Reliance Communications has served a legal notice on the department of telecommunications (DoT) on the issue of allocation of additional spectrum to GSM operators, reports CNBC-TV18.
Relaince says DoT should enforce the Telecommunication Engineering Centre's (TEC) recommended subscriber criteria and DoT should freeze allocation of additional spectrum to GSM operators.
CNBC-TV18's Sandeep Gurumurthy explains, "Yesterday the DoT finally accepted the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI's) subscriber-linked criteria for allocating digital spectrum to GSM operators. Once that was settled, the GSM operators, who were initially a little guarded, said that this was the only way things could move forward. They didn't welcome it in so many words, but they indicated that this was acceptable to them."
Subsequently, Reliance Communication issued a statement saying that it seemed that DoT had succumbed to pressure from the GSM operators. Now, the company has gone a step ahead and actually served a legal notice on the DoT saying that the government should not allocate spectrum based on the TRAI criteria, but instead should do it as per TEC's criteria.
What are the two criteria?
The current norms have been in place since 2006, which are widely considered to be fairly liberal. The TRAI recommended revision of thresholds of up to two to six times as the subscriber threshold for allocating further spectrum.
The DoT then asked the TEC, which is the technical wing within the department of telecom to examine the TRAI criteria. TEC further tightened the criteria and the threshold was increased by up to 16 times. The DoT set up a review committee to look into the issue, but the review committee submitted an inconclusive report a couple of weeks back.
Now the DoT has finally settled for TRAI's recommendation, which is lower. GSM operators seem to find that more acceptable than the TEC criteria, which is why there is opposition from Reliance Communications, a CDMA operator, that now wants an entry in to GSM as well. Rrelaince had recently charged GSM operators of hoarding spectrum in excess of 50 MHz, a charge that GSM operators have dismissed. Moreover, Relaince maintained that GSM operators should be made to return, what it termed ''excess spectrum'' saying they were are not entitled to any additional spectrum at all.
It's getting murky and the battle lines are drawn and the legal battle looks set to continue. (Also see: Cellular Operators Association of India serves legal notice on Department of Telecom)