A frustrated Tata Teleservices has given up its CDMA spectrum in protest against the government's convoluted policies in India's telecom sector, under which the department of telecommunications (DoT) is demanding a one-time fee for continued use of this 'excess spectrum'.
''Tata Teleservices, under protest and without prejudice, has intimated its decision to the DoT to surrender spectrum in the CDMA 800 MHz beyond 2.5 MHz in all circles except Mumbai and Delhi. In these two metros, the company will retain one additional carrier (1.25 MHz) beyond 2.5 MHz (3.75 MHz) for the balance period of licences,'' a company spokesperson said.
Tata Tele had already obtained stays in the high courts of Kolkata and Mumbai against the DoT demand for one-time spectrum charges above 2.5 MHz in the CDMA 800 MHz band; nonetheless it has gone ahead with surrendering the spectrum rather than pay what it feels are unwarranted charges.
This step is however expected to have minimal impact on the company's existing CDMA customers, as the 2.5 MHz Tata Tele will continue to retain should be enough to meet their needs.
The company has requested the DoT for 120 days to surrender its excess spectrum, during which it plans to increase capital expenditure to set up more telecom towers.
Tata Tele is 26 per cent owned by Japan's NTTDoCoMo.
In December, the union cabinet had approved a one-time fee on all airwaves held by incumbent operators, and the industry may have to shell out about Rs28,000 crore towards this charge if the decision passes the inevitable legal challenges.
The government has asked Tata Tele to pay Rs1,152.7 crore towards this one-time levy.
The company does not have to pay this fee in the GSM space used by most operators, as it only has start-up GSM airwaves in all regions.