Barcelona: The Indian government on Wednesday warned eight new players like Unitech, Swan, Loop, among others, of action if they do not roll out services even though the delay on the part of some of them could be put down to working out tie-ups with foreign firms.
The government’s stance may be a dampener because new players offer an opportunity to overseas entities to come to India, one of the fastest-growing markets in the world.
“One year is coming to an end. It is time to ask the new players. We cannot allow them to hoard precious spectrum. It is required for use elsewhere,” Telecom Secretary Siddartha Behura said.
Behura is here to attend the GSM Mobile World Congress and has met a number of foreign operators, vendors and other telecom players.
The DoT is planning to convene a meeting of all new operators who were given licence in January 2008 and were also alloted spectrum within a few months in a number of circles.
Communication and IT Minister A Raja has been facing charges of favouring new operators by giving them spectrum at Rs1,651 crore for the entire country as against the market price, which is several times greater.
Behura said that spectrum is a national resource and should not be kept unused. Many operators are facing a shortage of spectrum and this was affecting their quality of services.
“We would see what the licence terms and conditions say. If there is any gap we would introduce new conditions to ensure that no one hoards spectrum,” he said, adding efficient use of spectrum is very very essential.
As per the existing terms and conditions of the licence, the DoT can take back spectrum if the operators fail to roll out services within three years of getting radio frequency, he said.
Among the new operators, Unitech has joined hands with Norway’s Telenor and the foreign partner is in the process of getting regulatory and governmental approval before embarking on rolling out its network.
Similarly Swan Telecom has sold a 45 per cent stake to Etisalat while others are yet to start announce their plans.
Shyam Telecom, which has sold a 74% stake to Sistema of Russia, has started operations from Rajasthan. The Shyam-Sistema combine is offering CDMA-based services while all other new players have opted for GSM.