Vodafone, Idea to appeal to telecom tribunal over 2G plan

Vodafone, Idea to appeal to telecom tribunal over 2G plan

New Delhi: Mobile phone operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, Idea have appealed to a telecoms tribunal over the sector regulator’s proposals to slap new fees on second-generation (2G) spectrum.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) earlier this month called for companies to pay a one-time fee for 2G radio-spectrum with high bandwidth they won several years ago based on third-generation (3G) spectrum price, a move that would see established operators paying billions of dollars.

Spokesmen for Vodafone’s Indian unit and Idea separately confirmed to Reuters that they had appealed to the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal over the issue, without providing further details.

India’s top mobile operator Bharti Airtel had also appealed against the regulator’s proposals, said a source with knowledge of the development.

Bharti Airtel, which analysts estimate could face paying $1.4 billion if the new fees for 2G were adopted, had said the regulator’s proposals were “shocking, arbitrary and retrograde," and urged the government to reject them.

Vodafone Essar, the number three Indian player, had described the plan as “opaque, illogical and discriminatory."

Telecoms minister Andimuthu Raja said on 14 May the government would listen to mobile phone operators’ concerns before finalising any increase in 2g spectrum fee.

The regulator’s proposal must be accepted by the government before it becomes law.