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India amends telecom licence rules, starts allotment of 3G bandwidth

02 сентября 2010

India's Department of Telecommunications Wednesday amended the telecom licensing rules to include regulations for third generation mobile telephony services as it began allocating the bandwidth to seven companies to roll out services in the world's fastest growing telecom market.

Leaders Bharti Airtel Ltd., Reliance Communications Ltd., Vodafone-Essar Ltd. and Idea Cellular Ltd. are among those that have to obey the additional points in the amended telecom licensing rules.

These new rules allow the telecom companies to roll out commercial 3G mobile phone services from Thursday, till the validity of the telecom licenses they hold, or for the next 20 years, whichever is earlier, the DoT said in a notice on its website.

The added clauses also apply to Aircel Ltd., which won bandwidth for 13 areas, Tata Teleservices Ltd. with its nine areas, and S Tel Pvt. Ltd. that won three areas through the government-led auction process which concluded in May this year.

Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications both won bandwidth for 13 areas. The unit of UK-based Vodafone Group Plc. got bandwidth for nine areas while Idea Cellular won 11 service areas.

Tata Teleservices, Vodafone-Essar and Reliance Communications confirmed they received spectrum for their respective areas.

Tata Teleservices in a statement said:"as announced earlier, we have already placed orders for 3G network equipment."

"Our implementation is on schedule and we will launch 3G services for our customers in a few months," said Samaresh Parida, director of strategy at Vodafone Essar.

The other recipients of the bandwidth didn't offer immediate comments.

According to the amended telecom licensing rules, if the validity of the license held by an operator expires before 20 years, it will be extended "without any charges and in such manner as the licensor (the Department of Telecommunications) deems fit," DoT said.

Telecom companies, whose licenses are on the verge of expiry, need to apply for an extension three months prior to the license expiry date, it added.

Also, under the rules, telecom companies will have to provide connectivity in 90% of the metro cities and at least 50% of smaller towns and districts using the 3G bandwidth within the next five years.

If the telecom companies fail to start their 3G mobile telephony services within the next one year--starting on Sept. 2--they would have to pay 2.5% of the successful bid amount to get a one-year extension. If the companies fail to start up their services even during the extended period, their bandwidth will be withdrawn, the telecom department said.

Also, the DoT said that unless notified by it, if two companies with bandwidth for 3G services decide to merge, the merged company would be allowed to hold only one block of bandwidth.

The companies need to pay between 3% and 8% of their revenue to the telecom department as annual bandwidth charges, DoT said.

Separately, the telecom department also asked companies to declare the revenues from 3G and wireless broadband internet services.

Источник: Total Telecom

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