DoT unveils new licence norms

5 Aug 2013

Sector regulator the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has issued new Unified Licence (UL) guidelines in a bid to prepare the sector for future growth and clarify a number of contentious issues. The Economic Times writes that the UL rules allow for cellcos to enter into roaming agreements, although companies are forbidden from signing up subscribers in areas where they do not hold the requisite licence. The new guidelines also bans cross-holding , replacing previous rules that allowed a licensee or its promoters to hold up to 10% equity in another cellco in the same service area. The decision may force UK-backed Vodafone to offload its roughly 5% stake in rival operator Bharti Airtel. UL licensees will be required to pay a yearly fee of 8% of annual gross revenues. In terms of implementing the new norms, incumbent operators will migrate to the UL standards upon the renewal of their concessions, whilst the likes of Sistema Shyam TeleServices (SSTL), Videocon and Uninor that recently repurchased their licences will shift to UL immediately.