RCom, Tata Tele GSM permits valid: Telecom Ministry

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 20, 2013 Published on October 20, 2013

Ministry decision follows receipt of legal opinion

The Telecom Ministry has decided that the permissions given to Tata Teleservices and Reliance Communication to offer GSM services are valid and need not be scrapped.

The Department of Telecom had earlier sought the opinion of its senior advocate P.P. Rao after various industry bodies, including the Cellular Operators Association of India and Assocham, demanded that the permit given to Tata Teleservices should be scrapped as part of the Supreme Court’s order on the 2G spectrum scam.

According to the legal opinion received by the DoT, the Supreme Court’s order to cancel all licences issued on or after January 10, 2008 was meant only for those players who applied for fresh licences whereas, in the case of Tata Teleservices, it was an application to offer services based on GSM technology, in addition to its existing CDMA operations.

Incumbent GSM mobile operators had earlier threatened to disconnect Tata Teleservices on the grounds that its licences should be considered as cancelled. The operators’ lobby group, the Cellular Operators Association of India, had sought legal opinion on this issue from top lawyer Rohinton F. Nariman, who said that the COAI can take action against Tata Teleservices.

“It is clear that the spectrum allocated to Tata Teleservices was quashed by the Supreme Court. In the view thereof, it is permissible for the querist (COAI) to take all steps that are consequential to cancellation of spectrum,” read the opinion given by Nariman.

The Supreme Court, in its order in February 2012 had said that all licences issued on or after January 10, 2008, and subsequent allocation of spectrum are declared illegal and are quashed.

The problem is that Tata Tele got its licences much before 2008 but got GSM spectrum after this date.

DoT has sought to create a distinction between the 122 licences scrapped by DoT post the court order and the permit given to Tata Tele.

According to Rao, DoT had issued two press releases on January 10, 2008 — one giving CDMA players permission to use GSM spectrum (dual technology) and the second giving information on the application process for fresh licences.

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Published on October 20, 2013
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