2G verdict: cellphone operators silent on future course of action

Major mobile phone operators in Maharashtra,Goa and Mumbai circles chose to remain silent after the Supreme Court verdict on Thursday cancelled 122 licenses granted by former telecom minister A Raja.

Written by Rohan Swamy | Pune | Published: February 3, 2012 1:21 am

Major mobile phone operators in Maharashtra,Goa and Mumbai circles chose to remain silent after the Supreme Court verdict on Thursday cancelled 122 licenses granted by former telecom minister A Raja. Uninor is the biggest loser with 22 cancelled licences. Besides Uninor,the licences of Tata and Idea cellular networks too have been cancelled.

The official mail sent by Uninor read,“We have been unfairly treated as we simply followed the government process we were asked to. We are shocked to see that Uninor is being penalised for faults the courts have found in the government process.” Uninor has 38.65 lakh users in the Maharashtra and Goa circle and around 13.26 lakh users in Mumbai. The statement also included that as of now the operations will not be stopped. “We will study the order in detail and exercise all the available options to ensure that Uninor continues to operate in India.”

Idea cellular networks also issued a statement that read,“Idea Cellular,one of the original mobile operators had applied for nine new licenses in 2006,long before the government took a decision to award licenses in 2008. The nine licences along with 4 licences of erstwhile Spice Communications,which stands merged with Idea Cellular,have been cancelled. These licences,as per then stated government’s ‘first come first serve’ policy,should have been granted to Idea Cellular much earlier than January,2008. This seems to have been recognised by the Supreme Court as they have not charged us any penalty. Idea Cellular has unnecessarily been caught in this situation of cancelled licences as the licences were granted in January,2008 which was 18 months late from the date of application.”

The release also stated,“We understand that the license holders are allowed to continue operations for the next four months and an auction will be conducted for these licenses within this period. We will study in detail the above Supreme Court judgment and explore all possibilities to protect our investment.” Under the TRAI report Idea has around 1.48 crore subscribers in the Maharashtra and Goa circle and 27.26 lakh subscribers in Mumbai.

While the operators remained silent about the future course of action,the consumer rights protection organisations in the city too adopted a wait and watch ideology. Sudhakar Velankar,founder of city-based Grahak Hitawardhini,said they will not fight for affected consumers because it will be sorted out within next four months. “As of now we are not going to do anything,” he said.

Spokespersons for Vodafone,however,were unavailable for any comments. When contacted one of the officials said,“We cannot comment till we have studied the judgment.”

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