Data services by CDMA operators are beyond scope of licence: DoT wing

Thomas K Thomas New Delhi | Updated on November 14, 2017 Published on March 19, 2012


Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices and Sistema Shyam could be in trouble with their high speed data services.

The licensing wing of the Department of Telecom has taken a view that the data services being offered by the CDMA operators are outside the purview of the existing licences.

The three operators started offering data services based on the EVDO (Evolution Data Optimised) technology, which is essentially a 3G technology. The DoT wing has stated in an internal report that the existing 2G licences did not specify such type of service.

Key issue

“It may be observed that the scope of Unified Access Services Licence has no mention of the term EVDO. Additionally, UASL does not define the term EVDO,” an internal note stated. But the DoT has not taken a final decision in the matter and has asked the Wireless Planning & Coordination wing to give its view on the issue.

The key issue is whether the three operators can offer 3G services on existing CDMA spectrum. In a bid to get around the issue, they have termed the services as high speed data services and not 3G. But the licensing wing has stated that EVDO is a 3G technology in the migration roadmap for CDMA players. There are over 5 million subscribers on the EVDO platform in India.

The DoT is looking into the services offered by the three CDMA operators after the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) lodged a complaint. The COAI represents GSM players in the country.

The industry body had raised this issue after the DoT disallowed GSM players to offer roaming services on 3G spectrum.

The COAI had raised concerns that CDMA operators are offering high-speed Internet access without paying an auction fee, like in the case of 3G services, causing a revenue loss of over Rs 14,800 crore to the government.

Citing the DoT guidelines of August, 2008, COAI had alleged that spectrum was to be auctioned in the 450 MHz and 800 MHz band for EVDO services and in the 1,900 MHz band when it becomes available.

Meanwhile, the DoT has reiterated its stand on disallowing 3G roaming to operators which do not have spectrum. The DoT was asked to review its decision at a recent meeting chaired by the Prime Minister.


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Published on March 19, 2012
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