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India Mulls Temporary License Extensions for Threatened Networks

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India's Department of Telecom has filed a case with the Supreme Court seeking to extend the licenses the court cancelled until it is able to offer the licenses for sale again.

Although the government held an auction last year, a number of licenses were unsold and will be offered again in March. However, MTS India will see its license terminated in the next couple of weeks. Other networks face partial closures in parts of the country.

The Telecom Department is considering a temporary extension order for the affected networks so that they can continue to offer services until the licenses are auctioned off again in March.

If the networks do close down as currently required, there is a concern that even if the networks do bid for the licenses, they will have lost the bulk of their customers in the affected areas - which in turn would discourage them from offering a premium for the licenses.

"It is respectfully submitted that existing operators whose licences stand quashed may or may not evince interest in such an auction if they are not allowed to offer their services pending conduct of such an auction and this may impact the discovery of an optimal price for spectrum," the DoT said in its affidavit to the court.

The Department also suggested though that any bidders in the March auction would see their license fees backdated to the middle of last month in response to the proposed license extension.

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Tags: India