SC orders Telenor & Systema to Shutdown services Immediately!
Supreme Court today (Friday, Feb 15th 2013) ordered Telecom firms whose licenses were revoked last year to shut down their operations in India immediately unless they have acquired fresh permits from new auction.
This court order is a body blow to India arm of Telenor that operates in Mumbai, as well Shyam Sistema. Earlier this month, both the operators were given time till March 11th to carry on the operations. The SC hearing was supposed to be done on 4th of this month, but was postponed till March 11th.
Telenor had few days back said that it will not participate in auction (for Mumbai circle) that were supposed to be held in March, unless the reserve price for 1800 Mhz spectrum is not brought down by atleast 50%. Last November, they had won spectrum in Gujarat, Bihar, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh east, Uttar Pradesh west and Andhra Pradesh.
MTS on the other hand did not participate in the November auction, but was supposed to participate in the auction for spectrum for 800 MHz band to be held in March.
However, with today’s Supreme Court decision, millions of mobile subscribers may get affected severely. As per TRAI’s December 2012 report, Sistema had 14.9 million subscribers across India, while Telenor had 41.5 million. While subscribers can keep their mobile numbers and port out using MNP facility, the entire process generally takes few days, during which time these subscribers will be in a limbo!
In addition to stopping the services, the Supreme Court order also stated that companies will need to pay a fee to Government for using the bandwidth since the time their permits were revoked last year, and the fee will be based on the starting price fixed for the November Auction.
For Telenor, the subscribers may not get affected in the 6 circles for which they acquired the permits in November auction.
Among other telecom operators, Idea cellular subscribers will not face any issue as it bought back bandwidth in all the 6 circle it operates in. Tata has already shut operations in 3 circles for which the licenses were revoked.