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DoT rejection of licence extension ‘legally unsustainable’: Vodafone

Vodafone India has said the telecom department is unwilling to work out the terms and conditions for the extension of its licences in circles where they are coming up for renewal,in 2014.

Vodafone India has said the telecom department is unwilling to work out the terms and conditions for the extension of its licences in circles where they are coming up for renewal,in 2014.

In another letter sent to the department the company with an estimated 140 million subscribers in India has said the government has erred

in not extending its licences for providing telecom services in Delhi,Mumbai and Kolkata circles.

While the telecom department has asked the mobile operator to bid afresh for the airwaves to continue services in these circles,Vodafone has said the rejection is flawed and “legally unsustainable”.

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The company’s India resident director (regulatory affairs and government relations) TV Ramachandran has said in his letter they have never asked for a free extension of the service but had instead asked the department to “propose the terms and set a fair price”. The licences are coming up for renewal in November 2014. The government has been maintaining after the auction of 3G spectrum in 2011 that it will not allocate any further airwaves except through reserve prices set by the auctions. This will also include renewal of licenses. Companies like Vodafone and Bharti have claimed their demand for extension of licenses were not covered under this provision.

According to India’s second largest telecom operator’s letter dated March 26,2013,the government has misinterpreted and misconstrued Clause 4.1 of the licence. That clause had stated “the licences are fixed for a period of 20 years and that we have no right of any nature to continue operations on the expiry of the said period and that the licences would get determined automatically by efflux of time”. The same clause,it said allowed the government to extend the period of licence by ten years at one go,if the request is made by the operator during the 19th year of the licence period.

Vodafone also alleged that in the process the department headed by telecom minister Kapil Sibal has misinterpreted National Telecom Policy 2012,wrongly applying its provisions stating that spectrum and licenses are already de-linked.

First published on: 02-04-2013 at 01:38 IST
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