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DoT solution for cancelled permits

New Delhi, Jan. 12: The department of telecom (DoT) has proposed the imposition of a fee on mobile operators, whose licences have been cancelled, if the Supreme Court allows them to continue services till the next round of auction.

Operators such as Sistema Shyam, whose permits were quashed in February, are mandated to shut down operations by January 18 unless they have obtained spectrum and new licences in the recently concluded auction.

In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court earlier this week, the DoT said if the court agreed to extend the licence period, it might impose a condition whereby the firms would have to pay for spectrum allotted to them with effect from December 19, 2012. The price of the spectrum will be based on the price discovered through the auction to be held in March or the reserve price, whichever is higher.

The DoT added that if the court did not extend the licence beyond January 18, the government might issue a temporary licence to operators till the auction was completed.

“Such an arrangement will avoid disruption of services to the subscribers on the one hand, and safeguard public revenue on the other,” the DoT said in its affidavit.

Justifying the need for the apex court to extend the permits, the telecom department said the operators might not bid if their services were discontinued on January 18.

“It is respectfully submitted that existing operators whose licences stand quashed may or may not evince interest in such an auction if they are not allowed to offer their services pending conduct of such an auction and this may impact the discovery of an optimal price for spectrum,” the DoT said.

Russia’s Sistema will benefit the most if the licence is extended because it will give the company’s Indian venture two more months to decide on its future course of action without disrupting services.

Sistema, which has over 16 million subscribers, did not participate in the November auction. The company maintains that as a CDMA operator its legal case is different from the GSM carriers.

Sistema had recently warned that the dispute over its permits would threaten diplomatic ties between India and Russia.

 
 
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