The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fresh bids soon for vacant mobile slot

New Delhi, Aug. 25: The government will hold another round of bidding to fill the slot of one more cellular mobile operator that would remain vacant even after the fourth operator is selected in Bengal, Orissa and Bihar. The three circles drew a blank in the last round.

“The private operators had, in a meeting, told the Telecom Commission that bidding could be held simultaneously for the additional vacant slot in Bengal. They had also sought an early resolution of the arbitration process in Orissa and Bihar, where Koshika’ licence had been cancelled after it failed to pay up the licence fee, so that either a new operator could enter or Koshika could re-launch its service,” communications ministry sources said.

Koshika held the licence to offer cellular services in Orissa and Bihar in addition to the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) and Reliance. Now, with the ongoing arbitration, neither Koshika nor a new operator can offer services unless the issue is resolved or a licence issued afresh. Bengal is currently serviced by BSNL and Reliance Infocom. With the fourth slot put on the block, one still remains to be filled in the state.

“We wanted to fill the vacant slot simultaneously, but options were limited. If we had put only the Bengal circle on the block, then it may or may not have got the response. All vacant slots will be filled up after a fourth operator is finalised for these three circles,” a senior Telecom Commission official said.

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