GSM operators trying to form cartel, stifle competition: AUSPI


12 Jan 2012
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GSM operators trying to form cartel, stifle competition: AUSPI

NEW DELHI: The Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) today lashed out at GSM players alleging that incumbent operators are trying to form a cartel and stifle competition.

Reacting to allegations by Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) that dual technology telecom firms, which are members of AUSPI, had caused losses of over Rs 51,977 crore to the exchequer, the association said the rival was indulging in "misleading" media campaign.

"AUSPI wishes to bring out to all concerned that not to take any cognizance of the misleading media campaign of the COAI as it is part of their deliberate attempt to create cartel and to kill competition at the cost of national exchequer," AUSPI said in a statement.

When contacted, COAI Secretary R S Mathews said: "These statements are being made to deflect attention of the government from the issues they (AUSPI) have. All that we are asking for is a level playing field."

CDMA operators like Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices were companies, which had benefited from a policy change in 2007 by the DoT that allowed use of an alternate technology on existing license. This was called the dual technology concept.

COAI had alleged that dual technology operators paid ongoing spectrum usage charges on a disaggregated spectrum basis as opposed to paying on a combined spectrum basis (as done by the GSM operators.

It caused a major loss to the government estimated at about Rs 26,000 crore, COAI had said.

AUSPI, however, rebuffed it saying since the two technologies operating on the allocated spectrum technically cannot be combined for use, there is no case for paying spectrum usage charge on combined basis. The CDMA body alleged that incumbent GSM operators, such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, have repeatedly tried to stifle entry of new operators.

On the issue of excess spectrum held by GSM operators, AUSPI said: "The incumbent operators have not only saved capex worth billions of dollars but also have not paid excess spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz. This has brought scarcity of spectrum in the market and our members have still not received initial/additional spectrum even within the contracted limit."

Regarding allegations that EVDO services offered by the CDMA operators violated rules and caused an estimated loss of Rs 14,823 crore, AUSPI said the high speed data services are within the scope of existing license.

Source : ET
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