Vodafone urges Indian telecom ministry to drop liberalization of spectrum clause

Telecom Lead India: Mobile service provider Vodafone has
urged telecom ministry to drop liberalization of spectrum clause in India’s
telecom policy.


Vodafone said the mobile operator welcomes the early
auction of 800MHz and 1800MHz spectrum as per the directions of the Supreme
Court vide its Order dated 2 February 2012.


The guidelines issued on 3rd July 2012 represent the
first step in the initiation of the auction process to be carried out by 31
August 2012 as per directions of the Supreme Court.


Vodafone’s fresh concerns


The spectrum to be assigned shall be liberalized. In
other words, spectrum in any band can be used for providing any service within
the scope of respective service licenses using any technology.


Service providers may be allowed to convert their
existing 1800 MHz spectrum to liberalized spectrum for a period of 20 years on
payment of auction determined price. However, period of 20 years will be
subject to licensee acquiring Unified Licence on expiry of existing licence.
The entry fee already paid may be adjusted on pro-rata basis only on one
occasion when the licensees convert their spectrum into liberalized spectrum.


These provisions of the guidelines are a matter of deep
concern for the industry as they wrongly presume that spectrum allocated till
now is not liberalized”. This is factually incorrect. Liberalization as
postulated by DoT is the freedom to use any technology; this is the same as
technology neutrality” which has been in place since NTP-99 and the same has
been repeatedly stated, recognized, confirmed and clarified by DoT on several


There is no difference between the liberalization agenda
that the DoT has now announced and what is already permitted under policy &
license, including NTP-99. Plainly put, liberalized use/technology neutrality
is enshrined in our licenses and there is simply no justification to require us
to pay an auction-discovered price for the permission to do what we are already
entitled to,” said TV Ramachandran, Resident Director – Regulatory Affairs,
Vodafone India.


The telecom industry had already written to the Empowered
Group of Ministers through COAI, seeking that this anomaly be corrected
immediately and Para 6 be dropped from the guidelines.


He expressed hope that the submissions of the COAI would
be considered by the EGOM at the meeting scheduled to be held on 16 July 2012.


How spectrum refarming affects telecom operators in India


Refarming of spectrum is likely to negatively impact
fortunes of telecom operators in India. Telecom Lead is presenting select
points from Vodafone resident director TV Ramachandran’s letter to Indian
telecom minister Kapil Sibal explaining the negative impact.


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