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Voda Challenges Govt Move To Auction 900MHz Spectrum

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Vodafone said on Wednesday, 20 February, it has filed a petition in Delhi High Court challenging the telecom department's move to put its 900 MHz spectrum to auction despite its applications for licence extension pending with the department.

"Vodafone has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court challenging DoT's action of putting its 900MHz spectrum to auction even when Vodafones applications for licence extension are pending with DoT," the company said in a statement.

Vodafone had in December last year sought extension of its licence period for Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata circles, which are coming up for renewal in November 2014.

The telecom operator has sought the extension under clause 4.1 of the licence agreement under which the government can extend the period of licence by 10 years at one time if the request is made by the operator during the 19th year of the licence period.

Vodafone said it is entitled to a fair and reasonable extension of its licence as per mutually agreeable terms.

"Both the policy and licence provide for continuity and this action of DoT to arbitrarily withdraw the 900MHz spectrum is not only against the provisions of policy and licence but also disruptive and against public interest," the statement added.

The second round of spectrum sale will start from March 11, wherein government will put on auction the unsold GSM spectrum in 1800 Mhz band and airwaves held by telecom licences in 900 Mhz band that is coming for renewal starting 2014 onwards.

Government will auction spectrum in 900 MHz band for Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata circles.

The existing GSM operators will be allowed to retain 2.5 Mhz in each circle in the same band even after expiry of their licences after paying a market-determined price.

Vodafone has around 24 MHz spectrum in 900 MHz band in these three circles.

The operator said it has invested more than Rs 50,000 crore in India and remains committed to providing quality and affordable telecom solutions to its almost 150 million customers across the country.

DoT Slaps Rs 877-cr Spectrum Charge
On 13 February, DoT raised a demand of around Rs 877.6 crore from Vodafone as spectrum charges for the period between 2008-09 and 2011-12, sources said.

Every operator has to pay various kinds of annual charges like spectrum usuage charge, licence fee which is based on their revenue earned from telecom services.

The total amount raised against Vodafone, includes penalty and interest for all the four financial years separately, has to be paid by February 20, sources added.

For financial year 2011-12, the company has been asked to pay Rs 131.89 crore penalty for 11 telecom service area. This includes Rs 81.86 crore principal and penalty while the interest component is around Rs 50 crore.

For financial year 2010-11, DoT has asked the British telecom major's India unit to pay Rs 730.98 crore that includes principal and penalty of Rs 532.88 crore and interest component of Rs 198.10 crore.

These charges have been levied on spectrum held by company in 20 out of 22 service area where it operates, sources said.

The DoT has asked Vodafone to pay Rs 14.78 crore for Andhra Pradesh service area due for fiscal 2009-10.

The company was also asked to pay Rs 12.24 lakh for Assam and Himachal Pradesh for fiscal 2008-09.

(Agencies)