Cell firms to air grouse at auction meet

New Delhi, Feb. 6: Telecom operators are expected to air their opposition to spectrum refarming, pricing and licence renewal policy in a pre-bid conference on Friday.

The conference will kick off the March spectrum sale and will be a platform for industry players and the telecom ministry to bring clarity on the auction rules.

The government expects to raise at least Rs 40,000 crore from the second round of auction.

The November sale raised less than a fourth of the targeted sum. Vodafone is opposed to the auction of spectrum in the 900MHz band since it includes radiowaves that are already being used in its networks.

"Since the spectrum (900MHz) is being used expeditiously and extensively in our networks, the same cannot be put up for auction in the manner stated in the auction guidelines," Vodafone India resident director (regulatory affairs and government relations) T.V. Ramachandran had earlier said.

According to the auction rules, old operators such as Bharti, Vodafone and Idea Cellular must compulsorily take part in the March auction to renew their mobile permits in the three metros of Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta.

Vodafone feels the guidelines are "discriminatory" in nature as they fix the reserve price of 900MHz spectrum at three times the price of 800MHz, while Trai had recommended both these bands be treated on a par.

The Cellular Operators Association of India, which represents GSM service providers, claims the base prices proposed by the government for auctioning 1800MHz and 900MHz spectrum will only lead to "coercive participation".

According to operators, forced participation will hike spectrum cost for the Delhi and Mumbai circles by 15-18 times.

Bar on DoT

Reliance Telecom Ltd today filed a petition in Calcutta High Court against the department of telecom's (DoT) move to levy a one-time fee of Rs 173 crore on it for holding spectrum be yond 4.4MHz.

The high court directed the DoT not to bring into effect its notification till February 28.

The case will come up for hearing on February 11.

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