Spectrum allocation: Raja refutes charges of 'favouritism'

Spectrum allocation: Raja refutes charges of 'favouritism'
Chennai, Oct 10 Telecom Minister A Raja today refuted charges of favouritism in allocation of licence to allot spectrum to Swan Telecom and said he was prepared to face any judicial probe to clear his name.

"I am ready to face any kind of inquiry. The licence will be terminated if the allegations are proved true," he told reporters here.

The minister was reacting to certain media reports as well as allegations by opposition party leaders that Swan Telecom has been favoured in allocation of spectrum licence.

Raja said Rothschild, a private concern actively engaged in alloting spectrum licence across the globe, was shortlisted by the ministry from four foreign players to allot spectrum space. The company, in turn, allotted it to Swan Telecom on a first come first serve basis.

"For allocation of spectrum, 23 circles have been formed in the country," he said and pointed out that Swan's application had been rejected in places like Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar.

The minister said Datacom ranked first in application process and Swan was next. Swan was ranked third in Gujarat, fifth in Maharashtra and fourth in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

"The spectrum licence is issued purely on basis of merit after assessing the company's net worth," he said.

On the roll-out of 3G in the country Raja said ,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would roll-out 3G by December.

The minister also distributed a copy of letter written by the United Forum of BSNL Unions, which backed the Ministry for allotting spectrum to BSNL without any auction, and said he wants to allot 3G spectrum to BSNL and MTNL in advance without any auction "as it will be a cumbersome route for them (to launch operations)".

To a query, Raja said the Ministry was holding discussions with BSNL Trade Unions for the launch of BSNL Initial public offer (IPO). "We are talking with them and after that we may think of it," he said. Pointing out that the government earned Rs 40,815 crore revenue in the last four years from telecom service providers, he said, the revenue would increase in future.

"In 1999, there were 12 lakh mobile subscribers. Currently we are adding three lakh customers per day and nine million a month," he said.

He also said the total mobile phone subscriber base would increase to 500 million by 2010. PTI
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