DoT extended undue benefits to Reliance, Aircel: CAG

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New Delhi: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has blamed the Department of Telecom (DoT) for extending undue benefits to Reliance and Aircel. CAG has observed that the department failed to follow its own First-Cum-First-Service (FCFS) policy resulting into an undue benefit to Reliance and Aircel while allotting spectrum in Punjab circle in 2008. CAG has reasoned that DoT did not allot spectrum to operators like Vodafone, Bharati Airtel and Spice, which had applied for allotment of additional spectrum in Punjab prior to Reliance and Aircel. Hutch with a subscriber base of 6.34 lakh in February 2006 had applied for 8 MHz additional spectrum on April 5, 2006. Likewise Spice and Bharti Airtel with a subscriber base of 15.14 lakh and 17 lakh in 2006 had applied for additional spectrum of 10 MHz each on July 2006 and April 2006 respectively. DoT has denied their demand for additional spectrum on the ground of non availability of spectrum. The department has allotted start up spectrum for Aircel on January 11, 2008, whereas it has applied on December 18, 2008. CAG also pointed out that Reliance was allocated start up spectrum on January 11, 2008 under dual technology policy which was approved by the department on October 18, 2007. CAG, a constitutional authority, audits all government departments and Public Sector Undertakings every year.