Vodafone India is likely to go to the Delhi High Court against the decision of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Friday rejecting its application seeking renewal of licences in three circles - Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata service areas that are due for renewal in November 2014, according to sources with knowledge.
After DoT's decision, Vodafone said in a statement : "Vodafone is deeply disappointed with the summary rejection of its request for extension of its licences in the Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata service areas by DoT. This decision is against the interests of several million of our customers in these cities/circles. Vodafone has also been consistently contributing several crores in revenue to the national exchequer. Clearly, in DoT's opinion, these aspects are not important for determining expediency."
On Saturday, communications and IT minister Kapil Sibal told reporters that the department has sent the reply to Vodafone, and the company will have to take the "remedies". "The licencing regime has changed on Saturday, and companies will have to follow the new regime," he said at the National Editors' Conference on Saturday.
Telecom operators who have secured licences in 1994 with 20 years of validity, will have to renew their licences in November 2014. In December 2012, Vodafone India had sought extensions of licences for Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata service areas.
In December 2012, Vodafone had written to DoT secretary R Chandrashekhar mentioning that the extension was sought under Clause of 4.1 of the Unified Access Service (UAS) licence agreement.
The licences of 900 MHz spectrum come to operators with a 20-year validity. According to Clause of 4.1 of UAS, the government can extend the licence period by up to 10 years if the operator makes a request in the 19th year of the licence period.
The company had stated in its letters to DoT that the extension is "expedient and in public interest". "The 19th year of licence has commenced on November 29 for Mumbai circle and November 30 for Delhi and Kolkata circles... We request you to extend the period of our licence ...on terms to be mutually agreed," the company said in the letters signed by T V Ramachandran, resident director (regulatory affairs and government relations) at Vodafone India Ltd.