Writes to DoT seeking immediate allocation or compensation

Vodafone India, which had won 2G spectrum in 14 circles in the recently concluded auction, is yet to be allotted the airwaves, even after paying the fee in November.

The company has written to the Department of Telecom (DoT), raising concerns about the undue delay in allocation of spectrum.

Vodafone had participated in the1800 MHz auction held in November 2012 and acquired spectrum in 14 service areas at an auction price of Rs 1,128 crore.

Vodafone had chosen to pay the money through the deferred payment route — 30 per cent of the bid amount upfront and the balance in instalments.

In its communication to the DoT, the operator said that despite the payments made, spectrum has not been allocated as the airwaves were still being used by players whose licences were cancelled by the Supreme Court based on the February 2012 order.

Deadline extended

However, as the court has repeatedly extended the deadline for cancelling licences, the spectrum is still with the players who were allocated the same after January 10, 2008. For instance, operators such as IDEA, Videocon and Uninor are on the same frequency band in the Assam, Haryana, J&K and Orissa circles, awarded to Vodafone in the November 2012 auction.

The impasse has been caused because the DoT had asked the court to extend the deadline for cancelling 2G licences.

As per the earlier plan, the auction was to end by December and the earlier allocation cancelled by January. While the auction was held on time, the cancellation deadline has now been extended till March 11. In addition, DoT proposes to collect a fee from players holding the spectrum with effect from December 19, 2012, even though Vodafone has already paid for the same spectrum. Vodafone said that this is tantamount to double payment to and unjust enrichment of the DoT.

Vodafone has told the DoT that to compensate the operator for this delay, the period of 20 years (for which the licensee has the right to use the acquired spectrum) should be reckoned from the date of actual allotment of the spectrum.

thomas@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 3, 2013)
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