New unified licence regime bars cross-holding between telcos

New Delhi, Aug 3 (IANS) The new unified licence guidelines issued by the telecom department bars cross-holding between mobile service providers and this will impact Vodafone India's 5 percent holding in Bharti Airtel.

The present norms allow telecom service providers to hold up to 10 percent equity in another operator in the same circle.

The guidelines replace the existing United Access Service Licence (UASL) regime. All the mobile phone firms will have to mandatorily move to the new regime.

The new regime will allow telecom operators to offer any services under one permit. At present, these companies need to have different licences for various types of services - internet, mobile and long distance calls - it provide. Once it is in place, unified licences will free telecom players from technological limitations for various services they are providing.

The new guidelines also free spectrum from licence, which be available with an entry fee of Rs.15 crore. Earlier the mobile service providers paid Rs.1,658 crore for obtaining countrywide mobile permits that came bundled with airwaves. Now airwaves will be sold through auction route.

Irrespective of the spectrum band held or technology used, the new regime will allow telecom service providers to enter into roaming pacts in the same or another service area.

But the companies will not be allowed to acquire any customers where they do not hold requisite licences since it would amount to spectrum sharing which is not allowed, under the new unified licence.

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