The move allowing CDMA operators to provide high speed mobile internet service by combining EVDO technology with 2G spectrum without auction led to government missing Rs 4,187 crore revenue, the Comptroller and Auditor General has alleged.
“The non-auctioning of the spectrum in 800 Mhz (CDMA spectrum) for EVDO services resulted in non-realization of upfront one time charge of Rs 4,187.65 crore,” CAG said in a note to Department of Telecom seeking reply. Telecom operators Sistema Shyam (MTS), Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices provide EVDO service. “Our understanding is that EVDO is another form of CDMA, and there is no stipulation in the licence which bars its use.
We believe that DoT has the same understanding,” CDMA players association AUSPI’s Secretary General Ashok Sud said. As per DoT sources involved in preparing reply have rebutted CAG claim of loss saying it is “presumptive and hypothetical”. “EVDO services are within scope of licence held by telecom operators and use same spectrum that is used for voice service. Decision to not auction 800 Mhz band spectrum for EVDO service was taken in concurrence with Ministry of Finance. Hence, the question of revenue loss does not arise,” DoT sources said.
According to DoT sources, equating high speed mobile internet service provided by using EVDO technology with 3G technology is incorrect. “3G is considered more advanced compared to EVDO as 3G user can make video calls but same cannot be done on EVDO, internet download speed on EVDO is less compared to 3G, ecosystem for EVDO is less developed etc,” DoT sources said.
While telecom operators had to acquire spectrum in auction for 3G service, DoT is of the view that EVDO is evolved CDMA technology like EDGE services offered by GSM operators which is permissible under licence held by telecom operators. DoT sources added telecom operators provide EVDO service within the same quantum of spectrum allocated to them with licence but for 3G service separate 5 Mhz spectrum is required.