The Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) has filed a petition with the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) against the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), which is calling for the surrender of 2.5GHz WiMAX spectrum. The ISPAI claims that ISPs are being discriminated against by the DoT after the government called for the return of WiMAX spectrum from those standalone internet providers it allotted it to in 2003. It is understood that the DoT plans to auction the spectrum for a base price of INR5.5 billion (USD109 million). The ISPs have claimed that, if won by a large operator, WiMAX spectrum could go unused. It has also said that the reserve price for the auction is unreasonable, and fails to take into account the financial models of standalone ISPs.
In addition, the ISPAI has filed a separate petition to sue the DoT over the issue of sharing the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF); ISPs claims that they are not being allowed to access the fund, even though they contribute to it. In a tender issued in January 2009 the government allowed only providers with licence for basic services or unified access services to be eligible for utilisation of USOF for rural broadband. ‘We contribute about 1.5% of our revenues to USOF, but we are allowed to share the resource for rural broadband rollout, which is unfair,’ said ISPAI secretary Naresh Ajwani.