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Extended Shutdown Deadline for Mobile Carriers in India

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January 16, 2013

Extended Shutdown Deadline for Mobile Carriers in India

By Jody Ray Bennett, TMCnet Contributing Writer

According to a recent article from Reuters (News - Alert), "India's Supreme Court allowed on Monday mobile phone carriers, whose permits were due to be revoked this week as per an earlier court order, to continue services until it hears the case next on February 4th."

Russia's cell phone company Sistema (News - Alert) and Norway's Telenor were allowed to continue offering their service to their Indian customers until February 4th, after India's Supreme Court initially required them to shut down their network on January 18th. India's Telecommunications Department, DoT, told the Supreme Court that a new series of airwave auctions will be held on March 11th this year, where GMS airwaves in 1800 MHz, 900 MHz, as well as CDMA airwaves in the 800 MHz band will be sold.

The DoT also mentioned to the Supreme Court that extending the shutdown deadline until the next airwave auction will generate more involvement in the auction. With Sistema not even participating in the two previous airwave auctions held in November of last year by the government, this extension could guarantee the sale of all available bands in the upcoming auction.

With over 16 million subscribers in India, the Indian branch of Russia's Sistema, Sistema Shyam (News - Alert) Teleservices (SSTL), lost  21 out of its 22 permits. Sistema's reason for not participating in November's two airwave auctions was that its network is pure-play CDMA, which makes its legal case different from that of GSM operators. The Russians also warned that the permit situation might threaten India's and Russia's diplomatic ties with each other.

The extension granted by India's Supreme Court will also allow Tata Teleservices (News - Alert), Videocon, and the Norwegian Telenor to continue operating in zones where they didn't win airwave auctions back in November. Telenor (News - Alert) only managed to acquire airwaves in six zones, not including Mumbai, Kolkata and West Bengal, where more than seven million of its customers reside. Videocon may have to stop offering its service in eleven zones, therefore losing more than one and a half million customers.  In addition, Tata Teleservices will be allowed to operate for another three months in the areas where it has close to 300,000 subscribers.

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Edited by Jamie Epstein

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