Mumbai: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has given three weeks' time to the department of telecommunications (DoT) and six GSM operators to file replies to notices issued on the surrender of additional spectrum held by them.
The notice was issued on a petition filed by Anil Ambani Group's Reliance Communications seeking surrender of excess spectrum held by rival operators.
Reliance Communications had filed a petition in January this year alleging that the six GSM operators were hoarding over 52 MHz of excess spectrum that DoT had alloted free of cost.
TDSAT issued the notice following failure by the department of telecom and the six GSM operators, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular, Aircel Cellular, BPL Mobile and Spice Communications, to respond to its letter.
While the DoT blamed the delay on some higher-level meeting that did not happen, the GSM operators sought a last chance for them to reply.
The Anil Ambani Group company had submitted that the government, since starting spectrum allocation to GSM operators in September 2006, had allotted excess spectrum beyond the eligibility of most GSM operators.
Reliance Communications also sought allotment of the excess spectrum to the new entrants in the sector.
TDSAT, while admitting Reliance Communications' petition on 9 January 2008, had directed DoT and GSM operators to file their replies in the next four weeks.
Tata Teleservices Ltd, another CDMA operator, had also filed a petition before the tribunal seeking direction to DoT to get back excess spectrum held by GSM operators beyond the contracted quantity of 6.2 MHz.
TDSAT, meanwhile, also accepted a request by GSM operators' body COAI to implead it in the petition filed by state-run BSNL challenging removal of access deficit charge (ADC).
The petition filed by the COAI was admitted by a bench headed by Justice Arun Kumar.
Tn its petition filed in May, BSNL had challenged TRAI's decision to abolish ADC from fiscal 2008-09 while it reduced ADC by 37 per cent to Rs2,000 crore from Rs3,200 crore for the current fiscal.
ADC is a levy paid by private telecom operators to BSNL for meeting the cost of its unprofitable operations in rural areas.