Vodafone India has lambasted India’s Department of Telecom (DoT) for throwing out its request to renew a 2G licence for Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.
In a strongly-worded letter to DoT, the operator falls short of calling the regulator incompetent – but only just.
Vodafone says DoT’s rejection “suffers from several fundamental flaws, contradictions, jurisdictional error, and completely misrepresents Vodafone India’s position”.
As stipulated by a clause in the licence, argues Vodafone, DoT should have proposed new terms and condition for licence renewal. However, as no such terms were provided – despite several requests – Vodafone concludes that DoT has not properly considered Vodafone’s application. As such, it should promptly withdraw its rejection letter.
“DoT has seriously misinterpreted National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2012 and wrongly applied provisions of NTP stating that spectrum and licenses are already de-linked,” adds Vodafone.
The letter reiterates that Vodafone is still governed by provisions of NTP 1999, and that the subsequent NTP 2012 “does not have any retrospective effect and cannot take away rights promised or accrued earlier to the operator”.
The 20-year licence up for renewal covers the 900MHz and 1800MHz frequency bands, and is due to expire in November 2014. Vodafone complains that DoT’s rejection does not take into account its ‘faithful operations of the licence for 18 years”, as well as its contribution to teledensity objectives and revenues for the exchequer.
Vodafone’s spat with DoT adds further tension to its Indian operations. The operator is still embroiled on a $2.2 billion dispute with Indian tax authorities over the 2007 acquisition of Hutchison Whampoa’s Indian operations.