New Delhi: The Telecom Ministry has sought details from various CDMA operators, including Tata TeleServices and Reliance Communication, for offering high-speed Internet services without paying for spectrum.
The Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring (TERM) cell of the Department of Telecom (DoT) has written a letter in which it has sought information from the CDMA operators regarding the frequency band in which these operators are offering high-speed Internet access (known as EV-DO) and details of the specific permission/sanction taken to operate these services.
Last week, GSM operators’ lobby Cellulars Operators Association of India (COAI) had written a letter to Telecom Secretary R Chandrasekhar in which it had raised concerns that CDMA operators are offering high-speed Internet access without paying an auction fee, like in the case of 3G services, causing a revenue loss of over Rs 14,800 crore to the government.
File photo (Bloomberg)
COAI had said dual-spectrum operators are able to offer EVDO services taking advantage of the large quantum of combined spectrum (GSM and CDMA), while continuing to pay lower spectrum usage charges on the otherwise arbitrary and unjustified basis of separate streams of spectrum.
Citing the DoT guidelines of August, 2008, COAI had alleged that spectrum was to be auctioned in the 450 MHz and 800 MHz band for EVDO services and in the 1,900 MHz band when it becomes available.
The reserve price for the auction of one block of 2x1.25 MHz spectrum in the 800 MHz band was to be priced at 25% of the reserve price for 2x5 MHz in 2.1 GHz band (3G).
In its response dated 23 January 2009, telecom sector regulator Trai had also suggested that in case the 800 MHz band is auctioned after the 2.1 GHz auctions, the reserve price for the 2X1.25 MHz spectrum should be 25% of the highest successful bid amount obtained in the auction.
Last year, the government had garnered over Rs 67,000 crore through the auction of 3G spectrum in the country.
Operators Airtel, Aircel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone, Tatas and Idea bagged 3G spectrum in different circles by participating in the 3G auction.