COAI may head for litigation over bidding rules in spectrum auction

MUMBAI: GSM lobby group Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) is likely to move court over “perceived anomalies” in the bidding rules for the upcoming spectrum auctions, media reports said.

“COAI and its members are reviewing the NIA (notice inviting application) document and discussing certain perceived anomalies in it and discussing this with our legal counsel to determine the best way forward,” media reports said Rajan Mathews, Director General of COAI.

Although, there is no immediate plan to move court but COAI is trying to come to some conclusion by as early as this weekend.

The spectrum auctions, which are slated to begin on March 4, are crucial for the government as it would help to bridge the yawning fiscal deficit.

The Cabinet has approved reserve price for 800, 900 and 1800 MHz spectrum (2G) at Rs 3,650 crore/MHz, Rs 3,980 crore and Rs 2,191 crore, which are 17.5%, 32.5% and 2.5% respectively, higher than the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendation.

The Cabinet has approved a reserve price of Rs 3,705 crore per MHz for 3G, which is 36% higher than the amount recommended by TRAI.

The higher spectrum prices are a blow to the government’s digital India program.

Mathews said, “The final determination as to whether to seek the court’s intervention has not been made. Hence, we have not retained any senior counsel.”

The industry had expressed its disappointment over the decision with COAI saying that such steep increases would lead to major impact on growth and expansion of quality networks in coming years and adversely impact the consumer as well national vision of faster broadband for all and Digital India initiatives.

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