India’s top telecom chiefs in a meeting with the telecom minister Kapil Sibal on Tuesday expressed their concerns about various issues confronting the telecom sector and the operators.
As expected Bharti Airtel's Sunil Mittal, Rcom’s Anil Ambani, Vodafone India's Marten Pieters and Idea Cellular’s Himanshu Kapania met Sibal to voice their concerns on pricing and allocation of spectrum along with other contentious issues like the one- time fee for the extra spectrum, the 3G roaming pacts and merger and acquisition norms.
Later talking to the media persons the Department of Telecom Secretary R. Chandrasekhar said that the issue like pricing and allocation of spectrum which was discussed in the meeting was part of TRAI’s recommendations.
“The operators have conveyed their concerns and the Minister will take a final call on the Telecom Commission's suggestions soon”, he said.
These issue had also come during the speech of the prime minister some time back and hold great significance in the backdrop new telecom policy to be unveiled during sometime in middle of 2012.
The telecos, it may be recalled, are seeking redressal of these issues before the new telecom policy unfolds in June his year.
Sometime back the leading telecom service operators including Tata Teleservices, Rcom, Sistema-Shyam and Uninor in a letter to the telecom minister Kapil Sibal had called the government’s proposal to charge the new telcos for additional spectrum as ‘discriminatory’.
Expressing concerns over the proposed move to charge for additional spectrum beyond 4.4 MHz, these operators said that they have an agreement with government for allotment of 6.2MHz against one time fee and all of a sudden one party has changed the valid legal contract which will lead to financial implications for them.
"If new operators like us are now going to be burdened with additional payment for 1.8/2.5 MHz spectrum, it would impact our sustainability and scalability," the letter said.
"The valid legal contract cannot be unilaterally changed by one party especially when the proposal has huge financial implication to the other party. The principle natural justice requires the consultation with the party who is going to be financially adversely impacted, by the unilateral change in the license provision," the letter had said.
These telcos had said that 6.2/5 MHz is considered contractual minimum and optimal quantity of spectrum for pan-India GSM operations according TDSAT, DoT and TRAI.
The telcos like Vodafone. Bharti Airtel and Idea cellular are also opposing the government’s move to scrap the 3G roaming pacts between the telcos. While the government calls it illegal, the telcos term the move as discriminatory and illogical.