Put spectrum issues on hold until mid-Dec

Put spectrum issues on hold until mid-Dec

New Delhi: Telecom tribunal TDSAT on Monday directed the government not to issue fresh spectrum to wireless firms that want to operate so- called second generation (2G) services until mid-December.

India is the world’s fastest growing mobile services market, but the boom has caused a strain on scarce spectrum, which is currently distributed on the basis of the number of subscribers an operator has.

In October, the government accepted the regulator’s recommendations to increase the minimum number of subscribers needed for additional allocation, and to allow operators to provide services on both major platforms—GSM and CDMA—and later set up a panel to consider changes.

The panel is due to submit its report in three weeks. But the government is now being challenged at the tribunal by the Cellular Operators Association of India, which say the proposals are arbitrary and violate licensing agreements.

The next tribunal hearing is on 12 December, and the government said it would not act on the committee’s report until then. “We will not be allocating spectrum till the report of the committee comes, and subject to further orders of the...tribunal," solicitor-general Ghoolam Vahanvati said. The proposed changes mean that CDMA operators such as Reliance Communications Ltd will be able to provide nationwide GSM services on the payment of a fee, reducing spectrum availability for established players. REUTERS