ISPs sues DoT on the contentious issue of forced spectrum surrender
The directive by the Department of Telecom (DoT) - whereby Internet Service Providers in India have been compelled to surrender spectrum falling in the Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) space - has become a contentious issue. Taking a hard line stance against the edict, the Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) has filed a petition with the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal.
In its petition, the ISPAI has alleged that DoT is asking them to surrender the 2.5 GHz Wimax spectrum, which was already allotted to them in 2003. Terming the move 'discriminating', the ISPAI has said that the DoT now wants the spectrum back to have it auctioned for a base price of approximately Rs 550 crore.
In addition to the forced spectrum surrender petition, the ISPs also plan to sue DoT on yet another issue - that of sharing the utilization of its Rs 25,000 crore universal service obligation (USO) fund, which subsidizes telecom and internet rollout in India.
Elaborating on the grouse that ISPs have against DoT, Jasjit Sawhney, CEO of Net4, said: "The government policy needs a rethink. The current DoT guidelines, equate the Wimax spectrum to 3G spectrum which is unfair. If won by a large operator, the Wimax spectrum might end up being unused, as has been the case with IP telephony."