Entry of foreign telecom operators made easier

September 18th, 2008 - 7:44 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 18 (IANS) The government Thursday said it will allow foreign telecom players to bid for third generation (3G) spectrum auction without a domestic partner, but they will have to find a local partner before starting services.”The foreign telcos can bid for the 3G spectrum on their own but before rolling out services they should find an Indian partner,” Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura told reporters on the sidelines of a telecom summit organised by industry lobby Assocham (the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry).

Under Indian laws, foreign firms can hold up to 74 percent stake in domestic telecom companies, which makes it mandatory to form a joint venture with an Indian player before starting services.

Foreign players want the Department of Telecom (DoT) to allow them to bid as 100 percent foreign entities or give them a minimum of six to seven months after announcement of bidding details to enable them form partnerships with Indian firms before the spectrum is auctioned.

Amendments made by DoT to the guidelines on companies that can offer 3G mobile-phone services require new entrants to pay an additional Rs.16.5 billion (Rs.1,650 crore) to acquire a basic licence in addition to the money quoted during bidding for 3G spectrum.

Behura expressed satisfaction that mobile telephony in India has registered a substantial growth but admitted a great swathe of its population remains unconnected.

In this connection, he invited the corporate sector to step in.

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