Monday, April 1, 2013

Licence extension: Fundamental flaws in DoT’s rejection, says Vodafone

NEW DELHI, April 1, 2013 PTI

Stating that the company never sought extension of its licences for free, Vodafone India has said rejection by the Department of Telecom (DoT) suffered from "several fundamental flaws, contradictions and jurisdictional errors".

The DoT has rejected the demand of Vodafone India for licence extension in three circles on March 21 and asked the mobile operator to bid for airwaves to continue their services there.

DoT has said that in clause related to extension of licences, companies should not read 'may' as 'shall' extend licence.

"The said rejection suffers from several fundamental flaws, contradictions, jurisdictional errors and errors apparent on the face of the record, which have rendered the said rejection legally unsustainable," Vodafone India resident director (regulatory affairs and government relations) T.V. Ramachandran said in a letter to DoT.

Vodafone India had sought extension of its licence period for Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata circles, which were coming up for renewal in November 2014 under Clause 4.1 of the licence agreement under which the government can 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.

Claiming that DoT rejected its application on the ground that it has not come to settle "new" terms and conditions, it said no terms and conditions have been provided by the department to the company.

"...While you state that consideration for extension is subject to new terms and conditions, no such terms have been provided, thus demonstrating that DoT has not even considered as contemplated in Clause 4.1 of our licence...," the latter said.

The company said DoT has "misinterpreted National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2012 and wrongly applied provisions of NTP stating that spectrum and licenses are already de-linked".

Vodafone said DoT "misinterpreted and misconstrued Clause 4.1" of its licence by stating that its licences are fixed for a fixed period of 20 years.

"You have adopted self-contradictory and inconsistent stands on the same issue as on one hand you have stated in the letter that spectrum can also be allocated through market related process but on the other hand stated that unless we participate in the auction and get the bid confirmed, we would not be entitled to the spectrum," it said.
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