02:00 pm - Saturday 18 November 2017

Telecom panel allows international players to bid for 2G spectrum without an Indian partner

By Parvina Purkayastha - Thu Oct 04, 11:17 am

News for the upcoming mobile spectrum sale continues, as a high-level ministerial panel assigned with finalising rules  approved the plan to allow foreign telecom companies to bid without a partner.

But yesterday’s crucial meeting, headed by finance minister P Chidambaram, failed to decide on one-time spectrum fee. The move to allow foreign telecommunication companies to bid as 100 per cent foreign entities will be critical for firms such as Telenor which is in a  bitter dispute with its partner, real estate firm Unitech and wants to end the relationship.

Experts predict new international players will not participate in the upcoming 2G auction, as the telecom industry is fighting falling revenues and profits. Last month, leading international mobile phone firms had kept away from the pre-bid conference that was to clarify all issues related to the auctions, signalling their lack of interest in bidding for airwaves. Successful new players that bid alone will have to find an Indian partner before they launch operations and comply with the 74 per cent foreign holding cap in the telecom sector.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had presented three different options to this panel of ministers – to impose a one-time fee prospectively on all airwaves held by existing telcos; to levy this fee on airwaves held beyond the start-up spectrum of 4.4 MHz; or to levy this fee on airwaves held beyond the contracted spectrum of 6.2 MHz.

DoT had been pushing for a quick decision on this issue – it is of the view that existing players must know if they’ll have to match the auction-determined price prior to placing bids. The proposal has been opposed by several government ministries and many mobile phone companies.

Related Articles:

 

EGoM on telecom to meet again on October 8

 

EGoM to decide on payment of excess 2G spectrum

 

DoT to seek opinion from law ministry and Attorney General on 2G pricing for incumbent players

 

 

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