COAI opposes extra spectrum to BSNL

Private GSM mobile operators have opposed the government’s move to allot additional spectrum to state-run telecom company BSNL, saying it is a clear violation of the contractual and legal rights of the private operators.

In a letter to the telecom secretary D S Mathur, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) demanded that “department of telecom (DoT) immediately restore the level-playing field and allot spectrum to all eligible and entitled private GSM applicants who have been waiting for months and even years in the queue for spectrum.”

“Despite serving a legal notice upon the government to allot initial or additional spectrum to the private GSM players as per the eligibility criteria, no response has yet been received from DoT and instead out of turn spectrum allotments had been made to BSNL,” COAI director general T V Ramachandran said.

On the other hand, BSNL said the spectrum was alloted to it long ago and COAI was trying to corner every bit of spectrum instead of making any investment to make efficient use of the scarce resource.

“Please note that it is incumbent and necessary for the DoT to ensure that the level-playing field is restored immediately and all outstanding applications for spectrum are processed and up to 10 MHz spectrum be allotted to all eligible players,” Ramachandran said.

COAI further said any changes in the exiting spectrum allocation criteria can be implemented only on a prospective basis, i.e. on applications received for initial/additional allotment after the revised criteria has been notified.

It also urged the DoT that no third party rights be created till all outstanding spectrum issues are resolved. Commenting on the “inefficient use” of spectrum by CDMA players, COAI said that CDMA operators are not being asked to optimally utilise their spectrum.