DoT grants broadband licence, but wants to re-look time of application

Thomas K Thomas New Delhi | Updated on November 13, 2017

Qualcomm's trouble with its broadband licence is not over despite getting a licence. The Department of Telecom has now told the Telecom Tribunal that it will examine whether or not the US chipmaker had applied within the prescribed time period when the company puts in its request for spectrum allocation.

Though the department had earlier told the company that it had agreed to compromise and offer one licence, it is yet to resolve the issue of whether the company had applied within the 90-day window period after the auctions got over. “Regarding the issue of delay in submitting the nomination in favour of nominee companies by Petitioner (Qualcomm) and the question of assignment of spectrum, the same shall be examined as per the relevant provisions, only after a formal request is received from the petitioner to Wireless Planning Coordination wing of DoT for assignment of spectrum after completion of the procedural requirements for signing of the ISP licence,” the DoT said in its response filed with the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal

The TDSAT, which heard the case on Thursday, has directed DoT to take a final view on the issue and has scheduled the next hearing for November 8.

Qualcomm's licence had been held back because its application did not fulfil the necessary conditions, according to DoT. The Department had said that the US company had applied for four different licences which were not permitted under existing licence rules. Secondly, the licences were applied under companies registered in India, which, the DoT says, were not introduced by Qualcomm Inc as its subsidiaries within three months of the auction.

While the company maintains that it applied for licence on August 9, well within the 3-month period, the DoT was considering December 20 as the date. The DoT sent a communication to the company in September rejecting the applications. By then Qualcomm offered a compromise formula of merging all its four ventures into one and then taking only one licence. Separately, the company also filed an appeal with telecom tribunal. The TDSAT, on September 28, passed an interim order, restrained the DoT from allotting the BWA spectrum earmarked for Qualcomm to any other operator till further orders.

The TDSAT also stayed the government from forfeiting the bid amount of Rs 4,900 crore paid by Qualcomm to the DoT in the BWA auction last year.

After the TDSAT stay, on October 10, the DoT offered to give one licence to the US chipmaker for broadband services. The DoT sent a letter to the company asking it to submit bank guarantee and non-conditional acceptance to the offer. While Qualcomm has sent its acceptance letter to DoT, the department's latest stand comes as a dampener.

Published on October 21, 2011

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