The department of telecommunications (DoT) has sought the law ministry’s opinion on whether Tata Teleservices Ltd (TTSL)’s 19 telecom licences should be scrapped in addition to the 122 licences cancelled by the Supreme Court in February.
According to officials, DoT has sought legal opinion regarding the Supreme Court judgment of February 2, which saw 122 licences of eight telecom operators cancelled. DoT wants to know whether “the entire spectrum allotted to any private respondents on or after January 2008 should be treated as cancelled and made available for auction in the coming auction,” an official said, requesting anonymity.
The 122 licences that were cancelled belong to Uninor, Loop Telecom, Etisalat DB, Videocon, STel, Sistema Shyam, Idea Cellular and Tata Teleservices.
TTSL has got permission for offering pan-India dual technology services. It got pan-India CDMA licences in 2005, barring three circles — Jammu and Kashmir, North East and Assam — which it got in 2008. These three licences of TTSL got cancelled by the Supreme Court directive.
Dual-technology players are those who are allowed to offer services on both GSM and CDMA platform.
TTSL got in principal approval to offer dual technology services in 2008. Though it has pan-India licences, it still does not have any spectrum in Delhi and 39 other commercially crucial districts in nine telecom circles, even after over four years of making the full payment.
DoT wants a legal opinion after demands were made by various industry bodies, including the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), for scrapping TTSL’s licences.
Earlier, GSM operators' industry body COAI had contended that 141 licenses need to be cancelled as per the Supreme Court order. COAI and the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) had alleged the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had excluded the GSM spectrum allotted to TTSL in 2008.
In its presidential reference, the government has asked the Supreme Court to clarify on the status of dual technology spectrum granted by the telecom department in 2007 to Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices.
However, TTSL had criticised Assocham and COAI for seeking cancellation of its dual-technology status. The Association of Unified Telecom Service providers of India, a representative body of CDMA players in India, had also supported TTSL.