New Delhi, Sept. 28: The department of telecom today allowed foreign entities such as AT&T and Verizon to bid as standalone companies in the November spectrum auctions and then form a domestic partnership to conform to FDI rules for telecom.
The DoT today issued the notice inviting applications from potential bidders for spectrum auction to be held in November. The notice gives details of eligibility conditions, spectrum bands to be auctioned, payment mode and auction method.
The new auction guidelines state that entities that fulfil the eligibility for obtaining a unified licence, apart from current mobile licence holders and foreign firms, can bid for spectrum in the 1800 and 800 megahertz bands.
Under the new telecom policy, which will be enforced soon, eligible entities can buy a unified licence for Rs 15 crore, which allows them to provide any service — be it mobile, landline, long distance services or broadband (Internet) — using any band of spectrum.
While a foreign operator can bid for spectrum and then bring in the local entity, the DoT has advised them to initiate the process of getting regulatory clearances and approvals required to form an Indian joint venture as these were time consuming processes.
Foreign entities, with a domestic partner, will be treated as new entrants who can bid for a minimum of four blocks each of 1.25 megahertz (MHz) in each service area, which works out to 5 MHz in each circle.
New entrants will also be allowed to bid for one additional block of 1.25 MHz in each service area. In comparison, existing mobile players can bid for a maximum two blocks of 1.25 MHz each in each circle. However, the NIA clarifies that existing players bidding in bands where they don't hold spectrum will be treated as new entrants.
There shall be a lock-in period for equity of a person whose share capital is 10 per cent or more in the bidding company on the effective date and till completion of three years from the date of allotment of spectrum or till fulfilment of all the roll-out obligations prescribed in the NIA, the DoT said.
Free voice calls
Mobile customers may soon be able to make free voice calls to any number. Telecom minister Kapil Sibal today said the industry should move towards a “no charge for voice call” regime.
“The industry must move in that direction (making voice free) so that in years to come, talking to each other should not be taxed. There should be no charge for talking to each other,” said Sibal.