Millennium Post

Shift to unified licence: DoT may be lenient with Airtel

The Access Services department, an internal wing of DoT that looks after licensing matters, is learnt to have sought approval of higher authorities on the matter.

'We may accept the request of Bharti to apply for migration from UASL (existing licence) to UL in a prescribed application format given in UL guidelines,' the AS wing has said.

Early this month, Airtel had sought DoT permission to apply for UL saying that the conditions in the new permits should be subject to the outcome of all disputed matters that are before the courts.

The company, in the letter dated 1 November,  had listed seven matters that are sub-judice including extension of licence, one-time fee and spectrum usage charges and definition of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) in which government levies various fees.

The UL conditions bar telecom operators from entering into 3G inter-circle roaming arrangements that Airtel, Idea and Vodafone have been following. Thus, these companies are able to provide full 3G services even in areas where they don't have the radiowaves, using the spectrum of their partners. The Department of Telecom has termed these pacts as illegal. All the three companies have disputed DoT's version of rules and challenged it before court.

Seeking migration, Airtel had said: 'It is our submission that certain terms and conditions of the UL & UL guidelines already form the subject matter of pending court proceedings, to which the DoT is also a party.

'These proceedings are at an advanced stage of adjudication before various courts and tribunals across India and both parties are bound by and will continue to be bound by the interim orders that have been passed therein till the final disposal.

'Therefore, the rule of sub-judice will apply to all clauses of the UL & UL guidelines, which forms subject matter of proceedings, and would be subject to the final orders and principles laid down by courts/TDSAT,' Airtel said.

DoT has already issued unified licence to Idea Cellular which too migrated with similar conditions, as sought by Airtel, to the new licences.
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