The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on Wednesday set aside the department of telecom’s (DoT) direction reducing the licence period of Qualcomm’s broadband wireless access (BWA) licence from 20 years to 18 years and six months.
Qualcomm had challenged the DoT decision before TDSAT.
This is the second time TDSAT has overruled DoT’s decision against Qualcomm’s BWA licence. In March, the tribunal had directed the US company to deposit Rs 410 crore as demanded by DoT from Qualcomm’s Indian partner, Tulip Telecom but asked the department to grant a licence to Qualcomm within a week after the dues were deposited. Qualcomm was also asked to clear its dues within four weeks. The DoT had cancelled Qualcomm’s BWA licence, after which the latter went to the TDSAT.
Qualcomm had won the BWA spectrum in four circles — Delhi, Mumbai, Kerala and Haryana — for Rs 4,900 crore in June 2010. According to the NIA (notice inviting application), companies had the right to use BWA spectrum for 20 years from the date of awarding the spectrum.
Tulip had a 13 per cent stake in the consortium which had bid for BWA spectrum along with Qualcomm. TDSAT had said allocation of spectrum to Qualcomm should be done in accordance with the NIA terms. However, in the interim, Qualcomm sold 49 per cent equity in the licences to Bharti, which was looking at expanding its 4G presence in India to take on Reliance Infotel.
Breather for RCom
In a separate judgement, TDSAT asked state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) to refund Rs 383 crore charged from Reliance Communications’ (RCom), with interest. The public sector companies had levied the charges with respect to RCom’s home country direct services.
In its petition filed in 2007, RCom had sought refund of an excess amount of Rs 383 crore charged by BSNL and MTNL, violating the interconnect agreement. The tribunal also rejected the counter-claims of BSNL and MTNL for liquidated damages and retention of the amounts already paid by RCom.