2G scam update: Uninor promises to limit impact on customers, SSTL ready to begin BIPA lawsuit

12 Sep 2012

Sigve Brekke, the managing director of embattled cellco Uninor has promised to keep the impact of the 2G spectrum auction to a minimum for customers in the Jharkand circle. The Times of India reports that Uninor will participate in the tender, despite the ongoing litigation between the operator’s shareholders Unitech and Telenor, and will aim to retain licences for operations in Bihar and Jharkhand which it has identified as growing markets. Brekke told customers in the latter service area that although ‘a steep rise in call rates is speculated because of the 2G spectrum auction,’ Uninor will ‘not let it affect them in a big way.’ Further, referring to recent concerns regarding radiation from transmission equipment, Brekke added that the cellco’s network would be extended to cover 80% of the circle and would ensure all equipment is ‘of high quality so that the hazard of radiation is minimised.’

Meanwhile, Uninor and Sistema Shyam TeleServices (SSTL) have called on the government to amend external commercial borrowing (ECB) guidelines for the upcoming auction. The telcos have requested that the government lift the USD750 million cap on raising funds through ECB, and lifting the restriction on only using ECB for capital expenditure and spectrum purchasing, allowing them to use ECB for refinancing.

Further, SSTL’s majority shareholder, Russia’s Sistema is reportedly ready to begin litigation against India under the Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA), if its investments are not defended. Telecom Tiger quotes SSTL’s CEO Vsevolod Rozanov as saying that Sistema is now ‘technically empowered’ to begin legal proceedings against India, adding that there was no deadline. ‘We can start today, tomorrow or after five years. There is no legal restriction now,’ Rozanov claimed.

India, Sistema Shyam TeleServices (SSTL, MTS India), Telenor India