COAI, AUSPI spar over spectrum pricing

COAI, AUSPI spar over spectrum pricing New Delhi: The industry bodies of both GSM and CDMA telecom operators are trading charges against each other on the pricing of spectrum.

GSM industry body COAI said the government has suffered a loss of Rs 51,977 crore due to licence-related violations by the dual-technology operators.

CDMA lobby AUSPI, on the other hand, has said that prospective charging of spectrum beyond 6.2 Mhz will lead to loss of Rs 20,000 crore to the government exchequer.

AUSPI said spectrum beyond 6.2 Mhz allocated to the operators is contrary to the licence conditions and has been made without any one-time payment, but COAI stated that it has been granted on the basis of subscriber linked criteria.

The CDMA players association said One-Man Committee, which was set-up by Telecom Ministry, held that the spectrum has been allocated irregularly.

COAI, on this, said that it was a conscious decision taken by the government and referred to another noting made by One-Man Committee.

"Dual-Technology operators are in fact beneficiaries of a decision taken by DOT during the period September 2007 to March 2008. Decisions taken during this period have been held to be illegal by the Supreme Court," COAI said in a statement.

However, Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) refuted the allegations and said that SC order did not apply to dual technology licenses.

"If the COAI operators had applied for dual technology license in 2007, they could have also got at the same price," Auspi secretary general S C Khanna said.

He added that CDMA operators were instrumental in bringing down the tariffs.

"DoT's policy announcements on October 18 and 19, 2007 permitted the use of dual technology," Khanna said.

The government is in the process of deciding on charging of extra spectrum. However, it is yet to decide whether it should charge for extra spectrum over 4.4 Mhz or 6.2 Mhz which is contractual limit for existing telecom licences.

TRAI in its recommendation on 'Spectrum Management and Licensing Framework' has recommended to charge one time fee from telecom operators having extra spectrum.