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Thursday, Sep 02, 2004

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COAI wants level playing field with long distance players

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Sept. 1

THE Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) on Wednesday said that the telecom regulator's recommendations on unified licence did not ensure level playing field and was heavily in favour of long distance operators.

In its response submitted to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, cellular operators have said that the guidelines do not facilitate easy entry, as the fee for migrating into unified regime is significantly high for a period of five years. It also does not encourage flexibility and efficient use of resources.

"It is submitted that the pure play GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) cellular operators will be significantly disadvantaged under the proposed regime. These operators form a significant category in the telecom services segment accounting nearly 50 per cent of the subscribers and investments in GSM cellular," the COAI said in its letter.

The association said that long distance operators were being given significant benefits under the draft recommendations. "NLD and ILD operators have been given 60 per cent reduction in revenue share licence fee — from 15 per cent to 6 per cent, complete waiver of all rollout obligations and drastic reduction in the level of performance bank guarantees. In contrast, the entry fee level for long distance has been lowered only by 15 per cent from Rs 125 crore to Rs 107 crore."

TRAI must ensure that all telecom service providers must get the benefit of reduced licence fee and not just those who migrate to the new unified regime.

"The Authority may kindly ensure that recommended revenue share licence fee be equally applicable to all telecom players irrespective of whether or not they choose to migrate to the new regime.

This will ensure that existing players are `no-worse off' in the new regime and that migration to unified licensing is truly an option available to existing players."

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