Spectrum investigations underway as Tata chairman places blame with crooked operators

 India’s 2G spectrum licensing scandal has provoked many observers into giving their opinions on the country’s telecoms sector, and now the chairman of Tata Group, Ratan Tata, has commented on the events...

India’s 2G spectrum licensing scandal has provoked many observers into giving their opinions on the country’s telecoms sector, and now the chairman of Tata Group, Ratan Tata, has commented on the events.

The business leader, whose firm also owns Tata Teleservices, has suggested that operators have acted selfishly, claiming that many operators have taken advantage of the lack of specific regulation to further their own interests.

Mr Tata hit out at “politically motivated operators” which had “wilfully subverted policy under various telecoms ministers.” The assertions, which were made in correspondence with an Indian MP, state that underhand tactics are ongoing: “the same operators continue to subvert policy. [They] have even paid fees for spectrum, even before the announcement of a policy, and have ‘de facto ownership’ in several new telecom enterprises.”

The allegations could result in the investigation, which has thus far focussed on the 2008 2G licensing process, expanding its scope to scrutinise the operators which now hold licences.

Although Tata owns one of the licences in question, which it purchased in a joint venture with Japanese operator NTT Docomo, the company claims that biased regulation has left it “severely disadvantaged”.

Ratan Tata had previously expressed his support for broadening the scope of the investigation, claiming that all of the past decade’s telecommunications policies should come under scrutiny.

This opinion is apparently shared by the new telecommunications ministers, Kapil Sibal, who is detailing a Supreme Court Judge to a wide-reaching investigation. All spectrum allocations made since 2001, when spectrum was licensed by the then-ruling BJP party, are to be investigated.

A parallel inspection of the past decade’s spectrum allocations is underway at India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

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