Uninor to bid even if 2G auction is open

 Uninor, whose telecom licenses in 22 circles were cancelled by the Supreme Court along with other seven companies, has stated that it will participate in the forthcoming 2G auction process even if the government does not meet its condition.

Uninor, a joint venture between Norway’s Telenor and Unitech, has suggested that only new players and those who lost spectrum due to SC verdict should be allowed to participate in the new auction for 2G spectrum. Telenor suggested to the government that the big older players like Airtel, Vodafone, Tata Teleservices and Reliance should not be allowed to bid in the auction because “big guys will corner all the spectrum and force new players like us, out,” said Executive Vice President of Telenor group and Head of Telenor Asia operations Sigve Brekke.

Replying to a question if Uninor will participate in auction even if the government makes it open to all, Brekke said it will certainly go through the process and acquire spectrum if the reserve price is right and the block of spectrum offered is adequate.

“Our stakes are very high. We have already got 40 million subscribers in India, have invested Rs 14,000 crore and directly and indirectly employ around 15,000 people. How can we leave everything and quit?” he asked. But at the same time Brekke explained that it will acquire spectrum only if the price makes commercial sense.

Brekke also said that the Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal has given Telenor a clean chit. “He told me that Telenor has not done anything wrong and the government will help the company,” Brekke said. He explained that  the policy of offering spectrum at a fixed price by the Indian authorities was guided by the objective to ‘increase competition for the benefit of consumers’.

Uninor, according to Brekke, has played its role by brining telecom tariffs down significantly.
Meanwhile, Telenor ASA, on Wednesday,posted a loss of 1.93 billion Norwegian kroner (US$ 335 million) for the October-December quarter, weighed down by hefty impairment losses related to cancellation of 2G licences in India.

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