The department of telecommunications will not accept any new telecom licence applications after 1 October, the telecom ministry said in a statement on Monday, but did not give any reason for the decision.
There’s been a spate of new applications from firms with no prior telecom experience, with real estate to technology firms expressing an interest in joining the world’s fastest growing mobile phone market. The rapid growth has led to a paucity of spectrum in large cities.
Carriers have requested the government to allot fresh frequencies to ease congestion, including those currently used by the defence forces.
Existing GSM operators want the government to give them preference as many have had applications pending since December 2006, when the government last issued licences.
India’s second-ranked mobile operator Reliance Communications, which has most of its subscribers on the CDMA platform, is asking for licences on the dominant GSM platform.
But new entrants are also vying for spectrum, arguing established firms have failed to efficiently use the frequencies that have already been allocated to them.
On Monday, telecommunications minister Andimuthu Raja said the government would form new guidelines to help it scrutinize applications and narrow down the list of interested firms, given the limited spectrum available.