Cellcos face red tape repetition and altered spectrum allocation after auction

27 Sep 2012

Indian cellcos that had their licences revoked by the Supreme Court in February this year have not been guaranteed to retain their current spectrum allocations, should they be awarded frequencies in the upcoming auction. According to the Economic Times, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) told telcos that it ‘could not confirm whether present spectrum allocation spots will remain unchanged,’ adding that the cellcos would ‘have to redo several procedures to continue offering mobile services to customers.’ Revoked licensees such as Uninor and Sistema Shyam TeleServices are treated as new entrants for the purposes of the auction, meaning that all permissions for equipment would have to be revalidated by authorities before services could resume. However, the affected operators will be allowed to retain their existing number series, signalling point codes and backhaul spectrum, ‘unless any specific situation requires a review.’

The DoT has responded to requests for clarification on a number of issues surrounding the upcoming spectrum auction, though complaints from telcos that the regulator was contradicting itself in places have gone largely unanswered. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, telcos affected by the government’s 3G roaming u-turn requested that clarifications be made in the form of a binding legal document to prevent a repetition of the 3G roaming fiasco. Prior to the auction of 3G licences cellcos were given permission to offer 3G services in circles that they did not win spectrum through agreements with other cellcos, though once this was put into practice regulators called the process illegal and instructed the cellcos to cease: operators and regulators are still fighting over the decision in the country’s courts. The DoT replied to the criticism, saying that it would produce a document that clearly ‘lays out the department’s rules,’ though at present the DoT is still responding to requests for clarification in its previous ad hoc manner.