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India examining 3G sharing pacts, telecom exit policy likely in months

21 октября 2011

India's Department of Telecommunications is looking at whether roaming pacts signed by some mobile phone companies to offer third-generation services where they don't have bandwidth violate licensing terms, the telecom minister said Thursday.

"We are aware of the fact...we are minutely and carefully looking into the issue," Kapil Sibal told reporters at an event. But the government's long-term vision is for enough flexibility in the sharing of spectrum, he said.

In July, the Indian unit of Vodafone Group PLC said it had signed agreements with rivals Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Idea Cellular Ltd. for roaming services, so that each of them can offer third-generation services to subscribers in areas where they don't have the required bandwidth and licenses.

Separately, Telecom Secretary R. Chandrashekhar told reporters that a decision on charging a one-time fee from telecom firms for bandwidth they hold in excess of the allotted quantity is unlikely this fiscal year through March.

In May 2010, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had recommended that companies operating under the global system for mobile, or GSM, communications platform and on the code division multiple access, or CDMA, technology with more than 6.2 Megahertz and 5 Mhz of 2G bandwidth, respectively, should pay a one-time fee to keep the excess spectrum.

The regulator had said that the fee should be linked to last May's auctions for 3G bandwidth. Bids for the 3G bandwidth, auctioned by the government, were much higher than the price companies had paid for bandwidth for 2G services.

Sibal also said that a new policy allowing telecom companies to exit their ventures is likely to get approval from the cabinet of ministers at the end of 2011.

The new policy is expected to pave the way for consolidation in the world's second-largest telecoms market where as many as 14 companies operate in some of the country's 22 service areas. The government has said the new rules will likely leave about five to six operators across the country.

The telecom department is waiting for the regulator's views on bandwidth pricing and mergers, which is likely by Oct. 25, Sibal said.

He also said that he expects India to have 237 million Internet users by 2015 from about 10 million now.

Источник: Total Telecom

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