New DoT Allocated Microwave Spectrum to Reliance Jio as per Norms in 2015
The department of telecom allocated microwave spectrum to Reliance Jio in 2015 and then to Sistema Shyam Teleservices without auction provisionally and in compliance with rules, highly placed government sources said to PTI in response to CAG allegations of wrongdoing. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report tabled in Parliament last week said microwave access (MWA) spectrum was allocated to a telecom operator in 2015 on first-come-first-served (FCFS) basis in contravention to the recommendations of a DoT-constituted committee, while 101 applications for microwave spectrum were pending with the government.
The national auditor neither mentioned the name of the company to which the microwave spectrum was allocated nor the loss estimates. MWA spectrum is allocated to telecom operators for short distances to provide mobile services.
“Microwave access spectrum was allocated to Reliance Jio in 2015 and then to Sistema Shyam. The spectrum was allocated provisionally and with condition that they will have to pay market determined rate retrospectively whenever a decision is taken,” a senior government official told PTI.
The official said such spectrum was allocated administratively in the past to incumbent operators as well and in 2012 they did not agree to the new conditions, hence their request for fresh allocation of MWA spectrum was not met.
The official maintained that the stand of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for allocating spectrum to Reliance Jio was submitted to the CAG. “MWA to other applicants were not allocated as Supreme Court had cancelled the licence of most of the companies and they did not qualify for spectrum allocation,” the official added.
The Supreme Court had in 2012 struck down FCFS policy in 2G spectrum allocation case of 2008-09 while cancelling 122 telecom permits that were granted spectrum through the process.
The CAG in its report said the DoT constituted a committee in December 2012 to look into the allotment of spectrum in various categories and proposed that spectrum allotment in microwave band to all operators should be done through a market-related process, that is an auction.
“However, in contravention of the committee’s recommendations, allocation of MW access spectrum has been done on FCFS basis till date as was being done for 2G licence and access spectrum till 2009,” the report said.
The then telecom minister and present Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday said every spectrum was allocated through auction during his tenure and he will look into the anomalies pointed out by the CAG in spectrum allocation in 2015.