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Telenor wants further reduction in spectrum base price

January 25, 2013 15:17 IST

Norwegian telecom firm Telenor, which won licences to operate in six big states in November, is hoping for a further reduction in the start price for the second round of spectrum auction in March.

Telenor had almost a year ago lost its licences after Supreme Court cancelled 122 permits awarded in a tainted licensing round in 2008. When 2G spectrum freed from the cancellation was auctioned in November last year, Telenor won permits in six states but couldn't get the same in three circles including in Mumbai.

"The government has been giving right signals to industry leaders. We are hopeful that the pricing issues would be resolved and we will wait for March. But as the indications stand, the reserve price is likely to be brought down,"

Telenor's President and CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas told PTI at the World Economic Forum.

After the failed November auction, the government has cut the reserve or base price of auction of spectrum that wasn't sold by 30 per cent. The second round of auction is expected to start on March 11.

Baksaas said Telenor would bring pricing issue to "the attention of decision makers" but refused to elaborate. He also refused to say anything on participating in the March auction.

Telenor had at the time of losing its licenses in February last year had stated that it would give up some of the 13 circles it operated in and would aim to win spectrum in nine areas in the November auction.

Ahead of the November auction, it ended its partnership with real estate firm Unitech and set up a new joint venture called Telewings.

The new joint venture paid Rs 4018 crore to win spectrum or airwaves that carry mobile phone signals, in Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh East, Uttar Pradesh West, Bihar, Gujarat and Maharashtra. It could not manage spectrum in Mumbai, Kolkata and West Bengal.

The company had previously indicated that it may bid for airwaves for the Mumbai zone in the March auction. The firm, which operates under Uninor brand name, has continued to operate in Mumbai after Supreme Court allowed more time for revoked permits to continue operations. However, it continues to scale down operations in Kolkata and West Bengal zones as planned earlier.

On his meeting with Commerce Minister Anand Sharma on the sidelines of WEF, Baksaas said the Minister informed of the the growth potential of Indian markets and the recent steps taken by the government as part of its reform agenda.

"The discussions were mostly of general nature, but I told the Minister about the very difficult period that telecom sector has faced and he also made very clear references to the fact that the first auction did not attract satisfactory response in 100 per cent of geography," he said.

Barun Jha in Davos
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