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Ambani launches fresh attack on GSM operators

January 07, 2008 17:44 IST

Reliance Communications Chairman Anil Ambani today launched a fresh attack on the GSM trio -- Bharti, Vodafone and Idea -- accusing them of forming a cartel to fix prices, ahead of telecom tribunal TDSAT's hearing on their plea against government's move to allow dual technology.

"Whatever is happening in the telecom sector is visible to everyone. The monopolistic mindset of a few of the existing GSM players is affecting the sector badly," Ambani told PTI.

TDSAT will on January 9 hear Cellular Operators Association of India's petition challenging the government's decision of October 18 last year allowing dual technology to offer mobile services and also the spectrum allocation norms. TDSAT had earlier refused to stay the process of spectrum allocation last month, forcing the GSM operators to approach the Delhi High Court.

Asked about RCom getting the benefit of using the two technologies - CDMA and GSM, Ambani said: "We are not the only one to get this facility. HFCL and Shyam Telecom have also got the permission and all of us have paid the money for our respective circles to get GSM spectrum. Even Tatas are also likely to get permission for offering GSM-based mobile services in all circles where the company has been operating under CDMA technology," he said.

Ambani said the three top GSM operators have saved thousands of crores of rupees in capital expenditure by taking extra spectrum beyond their contractual limit, at the cost of the government.

The actions of these three operators, especially cartelisation, were being heard in TDSAT, he said, adding that the issue was pending with regulator TRAI and full examination was being done by Department of Telecom.

Apart from forming a cartel, these three operators have now gone a step ahead by sharing the towers. This shows that they want to continue working with oligopolistic mindset, Ambani said.

Ambani had earlier written a couple of letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, seeking his intervention to get back the extra spectrum held by these GSM players beyond their contractual limit of 6.2 MHz.

He said RCom has filed a petition in TDSAT for return of extra spectrum held by any service provider and would wait for the tribunal's decision.

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