'Telcos need to obtain UL, buy spectrum to continue services'
New Delhi: Telecom companies seeking 'extension' of their permits would have to obtain Unified Licence and buy spectrum separately to continue their operations in respective circles.
"Today the regime has changed ... Licences and spectrum are two separate things. Previously, the spectrum was with the licence at cost of Rs 1,658 crore. The licence can continue but spectrum on terms of Supreme Court judgement you have to buy," Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said when asked about the extension of licences sought by Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Loop Mobiles for certain circles.
"We have sent reply to them. Whatever the remedies are, they should take those remedies. They all will have to migrate to Unified Licence now becuase that is the only regime available now," Sibal said.
Earlier, sources had said that DoT had communicated to Vodafone and Loop Telecom that their licences cannot be extended in certain circles where the permits are due for renewal in 2014. The companies would need to bid for airwaves to continue their services in those circles, they had said, adding similar communication would be sent to Bharti Airtel as well.
Sibal added that the Unified Licence will be ready in next 8-10 days for companies to apply for.
Vodafone, Loop and Airtel have approached court against government's plan to auction spectrum that they currently hold and has sought extension of licence using the same spectrum.
The telecom firms contended that they have in their possession the 900 MHz spectrum since November 1994 and without considering their plea for renewal of licence.
The spectrum identified for auction in 900 Mhz includes 8 Mhz held by Bharti Airtel and Vodafone each in Delhi circle; 8 Mhz each of Loop Mobile and Vodafone in Mumbai; and in Kolkata 6.2 Mhz spectrum of Bharti Airtel and 7.8 Mhz of Vodafone that is due for renewal in 2014.
The auction of the identified spectrum was scheduled to start from March 11 but none of the company applied to bid for these airwaves and hence it failed.
Government has announced that it will conduct third round of auction.
Sibal said that the details of the auction will be finalised by Empowered Group Of Ministers.