DoT in a fix over SC's 2G order

 The Department of Telecom (DoT) is studying the impact of the Supreme Court judgement cancelling 122 telecom licences which has opened up slew of issues in relation with those companies already having 3G licences.

Sources in the DoT told Deccan Herald that there are two players who are likely to get impacted due to this – Idea Cellular (whose 9 licences have been cancelled) having 3G spectrum in two circles – Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir; and S-Tel (6 licence cancelled) that successfully bid for 3G spectrum in three circles of Orissa, Bihar and Himachal Pradesh.

The government is studying the how to address the issue of 3G airwaves holding companies who’s 2G licences had been cancelled, sources said.

Likely, in January 2008, the DoT had also given 35 dual technology licences (GSM spectrum to CDMA players) at 2001 rates, and now the department is in a fix as to how to recover money from these players as they also got the same spectrum alike other 122 licensees whose licences have been scrapped.

While cancelling the licences the Supreme Court has said that fresh 2G auctions will take over four months.

However, the DoT’s latest internal note says it is unable to meet the four-month deadline instead it required 13 months.

The tentative roadmap and timelines for auction prepared by the DoT says that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will take 60 days to make recommendations, while the government will take 95 days to approve these recommendations.

Apart from the DoT, the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) and the Union Cabinet will have to decide on issue like reserve price of spectrum and blocks to be auctioned.
Then auction should be hold and sufficient time must be given to companies to make payments before making allotment of frequencies.

All these process required minimum 13 months, says the DoT in its internal note.
Apart from struggling to meet the deadline, the DoT is also studying the implications of the judgement on other licences not given through auction prior to 2008.

This includes licences and spectrum given to many leading players. Between 2004 and 2007, the DoT gave 51 telecom licences on ‘first-come, first-served’ policy.

The DoT is also looking at 22 telecom licences given in 2001 under the BJP-led NDA regime as per the same policy.

Telenor to change partner

Norwegian telecom firm Telenor on Tuesday announced that it will form a new entity in India to take forward its business.

The proposed entity also seeks requisite approvals from the government to allow Telenor Group to take 74 per cent stake. Mobile operator S Tel said it was helping its subscribers switch to other operators, an indication that the firm may be shutting shop.

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