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SC pushes back closure deadline

15 Jan 2013

India’s Supreme Court has extended the deadline for closing down cellcos to 4 February, the Business Standard reports. Previously, cellcos whose licences were revoked by the apex court in February last year had been given until 18 January to shut up shop. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) sought an extension of that deadline to allow time for a second spectrum auction after the first, in November 2012, met with little enthusiasm. Further, an extended deadline buys time for the Supreme Court to hear the case of Russia’s Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL) which refused to participate in the November auction, opting to pursue the matter in the courts.

Norwegian-backed cellco Uninor, which will relaunch under a new structure as Telewings, has announced that it is considering purchasing spectrum in the Mumbai circle. Spectrum in Mumbai, along with the Delhi, Karnataka and Rajasthan areas attracted no bids during the initial auction, due to the high reserve prices set for those circles.

Meanwhile, Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) has announced that it is considering re-entering the Indian market after it sold its stake in STel following the mass licence cancellation, The National reports. Batelco chief executive Sheikh Mohamed bin Isa Al Khalifa was quoted as saying that Batelco is not interested in start-up companies and so would not participate in any upcoming auction. Nevertheless, ‘potential opportunities in India remain on our agenda [and] Batelco is interested in investing in existing operators’ Al Khalifa went on, adding that ‘India is an attractive telecom market due to its size, growth potential and opportunity to launch many innovative services.’

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