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Tuesday, Jul 06, 2004

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Tata Tele surrenders excess spectrum

Thomas K. Thomas

New Delhi , July 5

AT a time when mobile operators are clamouring for more radio frequency, Tata Teleservices has given up 2 Mhz of spectrum in Maharashtra circle.

The move comes after the Department of Telecom had asked the company to surrender the spectrum, which was issued in excess of the prescribed limit of 5 Mhz per operator. The Department has asked the company to close the network using the excess spectrum and give a compliance report. Tata Teleservices was using this spectrum in Mumbai and Pune.

When contacted, Tata Telservices executives said that they had already complied with the DoT orders and had surrendered the radio frequency.

They said that Hughes, which was acquired by Tata Teleservices, had received about 7 Mhz of radio frequency in Maharashtra circle as per the terms of the old basic services licence conditions.

However, the new licences specify that CDMA (code division multiple access) based mobile operators cannot hold on to more than 5 Mhz radio frequency.

"We had received a request from DoT to surrender the excess spectrum. There were several meetings with the Department on the issue where we agreed to release the excess spectrum in a phased manner by June 30," said a Tata official.

Meanwhile, CDMA-based operators led by the Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUTSPI), have been demanding the relaxation on the cap on the spectrum limit.

They point out that while GSM based cellular operators get spectrum up to 15 Mhz, CDMA operators are entitled to only 5 Mhz.

"After having spent more than Rs 20,000 crore as investment for laying the infrastructure and having paid the same licence fee as the fourth GSM operator, CDMA operators are still required to prove to our competitors that we need additional spectrum. This is not in line with the principles of competition and healthy development of competitive environment," AUTSPI has said in a letter to the DoT.

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