India’s second biggest mobile firm, Reliance Communications Ltd, or RCom, has served a legal notice on the government demanding stricter norms for allocating radio spectrum to rival GSM operators to run their networks.
RCom, which offers phone services using a different technology, called CDMA, has asked the government to follow a formula worked out by the Telecom Engineering Centre, which proposed that operators serve up to 10 times the current customer base to qualify for additional spectrum used by phone firms to transmit voice signals.
A Department of Telecommunications (DoT) committee last week recommended phone firms service up to four times the current subscriber base before any fresh allocation of airwaves.
DoT plans to follow this formula, which RCom is opposing. Its notice was served by New Delhi law firm Agarwal Law Associates. Reliance “can go to the courts if DoT allocates spectrum to GSM operators based on Trai’s (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) proposal,” predicted a company spokesperson.
Meanwhile, the GSM lobby, the Cellular Operators Association of India, sent its own legal notice asking the department not to allocate spectrum to CDMA operators who are now planning to offer GSM-based services.
In a related move, S Tel Ltd said it increased its financial offer for spectrum rights.
“S Tel enhances its earlier offer of additional revenue of Rs6,000 crore to an amount of Rs13,752 crore over a period of 10 years,” Santhosh Robert, a director of the Chennai firm, wrote to telecom minister Andimuthu Raja.
Prashant Singhal, the telecom practice leader at Ernst and Young, said these litigations and legal notices could delay the proceedings for another month, not much longer. “Even the high court declined to stay the (government plans); the issues should get resolved by end of January,” he said.