Telecom tribunal TDSAT on Thursday reserved its order over maintainability of Vodafone’s plea against government’s recent policy of liberalised spectrum use.
The Department of Telecom (DoT), through a July 3 circular, has issued guidelines that allows existing players to pay spectrum auction discovered amount for being able to use the airwaves for any technology for providing telecom services.
It has said that service providers may be allowed to use their existing 1800 MHz 2G spectrum towards a liberalised usage for a period of 20 years on payment of the auction-determined price.
A TDSAT bench headed by its Chairman Justice S B Sinha reserved its order after hearing DoT and Vodafone.
A liberalised spectrum means the airwaves could be used for providing any service within the scope of respective service licences, using any technology.
During the proceedings, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Vodafone, opposed DoT’s policy saying it was nothing new as right from the National Telecom Policy 1999, it was always said the spectrum was liberalised.
DoT advocate Ruchir Mishra said the decision was taken by the government for more effective utilisation of spectrum.
He further said the spectrum was never liberalised but only allowed for cellular services.
Mr. Mishra added DoT also has the right to amend the licence conditions regarding spectrum utilisation.
In its petition, Vodafone requested TDSAT to “strike down and quash the impugned decision of the DoT”.
Vodafone in the petition said both DoT and TRAI have said several times that spectrum is already technology neutral and its services could be operated in any technology in the given band.
It had also requested TDSAT to pass an interim order to “restrain DoT from giving effect to and/or implementing the impugned decision” related to liberalisation of spectrum for the existing ones till the final order is passed by the tribunal on the petition.