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Telcos move TDSAT over Trai proposal
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#1
Quote:India’s three leading GSM operators today challenged the recommendations of the telecom regulator on second generation (2G) pricing before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).

Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular moved a petition against the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on spectrum management and licensing, including pricing of 2G spectrum.


The petition questions the terms of reference given to Trai by the department of telecommunications (DoT) and the process followed by Trai, which varies from what it was asked to do, an operator said, requesting anonymity. A Vodafone Essar official confirmed the company had filed the petition before TDSAT, but refused to share details.


In its proposal given on May 11, Trai had suggested sweeping changes in the telecom landscape. The regulator had recommended that operators who had spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz should pay a one-time fee for the excess. This fee, Trai had said, should be equivalent to the price arrived at the auction for third generation (3G). It had also recommended that operators pay the market rate for spectrum when their licences came for renewal.

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#2
Telcos withdraw plea to tribunal over 2G plan

Quote:Mobile operators such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar on Tuesday withdrew their plea to the telecom tribunal over the regulator's proposals to slap new fees on second-generation (2G) spectrum, a lawyer said.

Petitions filed by leading operators seeking to overturn the sector regulator's proposals to slap new fees on 2G spectrum has been withdrawn, C.A. Sundaram, one of the lawyers representing the operators, told reporters.

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

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#3
Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular on Tuesday were forced to withdraw their petition against the telecom regulator's recommendations on 2G spectrum. This came after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India told the Tribunal that its proposals are recommendatory in nature and could not be challenged.

TRAI counsel Mr Meet Malhotra told the tribunal that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's recommendations were advisory in nature and the Government was not bound by it. “Hence, it is premature for the petitioners to have approached the tribunal,” Mr Malhotra said.

Mr Justice Sinha then asked counsels of the operators whether their plea was maintainable as the recommendations were advisory in nature.

Approach appropriate forum

The three operators withdraw their plea when the tribunal was about to reserve its order on the maintainability of the petition after hearing the case for more than one-and-a-half hours. The TDSAT Chairman, Mr Justice S B Sinha, allowed the operators to approach other appropriate forum on their grievance.

The three Incumbent GSM operators had filed the petition on Monday as they would be the hardest hit if the recommendations of the TRAI are accepted by the Government. During the proceedings today, Reliance Communications opposed GSM operator's plea before the tribunal.

The regulator has suggested all operators with more than 6.2 Mhz spectrum should be asked to pay a fee which is linked on a pro-rata basis to the recently concluded 3G auction. Since the three operators own as much as 8Mhz and 10 Mhz in some of the circles the pay out would be Rs 20,000 crore. In addition, the regulator has also suggested that the operators should be asked to pay a renewal fee if they want to continue to offer services at the end of the licence period, that is 20 years. Bharti and Vodafone had taken some of their licences in 1994-95 which means that they would have to pay a hefty amount in the next 4 years.

Bharti, Idea Cellular and Vodafone had also written to the Ministry of Communication urging the Government to dump the TRAI proposals. They said that the TRAI proposals would put a huge financial burden which in turn will impact their business viability. “As a major player in the Indian communications market, having invested heavily to drive the industry and Indian economic development, Vodafone Essar (VEL) is extremely disappointed with the TRAI recommendations on spectrum, licensing and M&A. We believe that they are retrograde for the industry and against the interest of consumers. VEL is deeply concerned that the TRAI recommendations have deviated fundamentally from the holistic, forward looking spectrum reform framework recommended by the Expert Committee set up by DoT that TRAI was tasked with considering,” Vodafone Essar had said in a statement.

‘Shocking, arbitrary'

Bharti Airtel had termed the recommendations are shocking, arbitrary and retrograde. “They overturn all existing policies of DoT for the last 15 years, recommendations made by various government committees and even TRAI's own earlier recommendations. Besides, these are against all existing global norms for spectrum allocation and efficiency. It seems that the recommendations are designed to punish efficient and performing operators like us for contributing to the growth of Indian telecom sector and are instead tailor made to benefit select operators whose contribution to telecom growth and Government revenues have been negligible,” Airtel said

Though the TRAI itself has told the Government to hold any decision till it further studies the proposal to link 2G spectrum with that of 3G prices, GSM players are not expecting any major departure from what the regulator has already suggested.

From-[]bTheHIndu[/b]
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