Cellcos tap diplomatic channels over licence dispute

8 Feb 2012

Norway’s IT minister, Rigmor Aasrud met with her Indian counterpart Kapil Sibal yesterday to discuss the ruling of the Supreme Court that revoked 122 2G licences, including those of Uninor, in which the Norwegian government has a stake through its 54% ownership of Telenor. Aasrud described the meeting as ‘fruitful and constructive’, though the minister said that the decision of whether or not to take legal action against the Indian government would be left to Telenor. According to local news sources, diplomats from the Russia Federation have followed suit and contacted Indian authorities in order to safeguard the government’s interest in Sistema Group’s operations in the country. Meanwhile, a third government with an interest in an affected cellco – the UAE through Etisalat – has not yet announced its intentions. A joint petition from the three governments was initially expected, though Norway’s rapid, unilateral approach seems to have ruled out this course of action.

In the wake of the court’s decision, several cellcos which have had their concessions revoked, including Uninor and Sistema, have accused incumbent operators of attempting to lure subscribers via ‘unethical’ methods such as sending unsolicited SMS encouraging customers to take advantage of mobile number portability (MNP) to switch providers.

India, Norway, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Etisalat DB (formerly Swan Telecom), Etisalat UAE, Sistema, Sistema Shyam TeleServices (SSTL, MTS India), Telenor Group, Telenor India