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The rush to enter the world's fastest-growing mobile services market has attracted a wide range of applicants for telecom licences with the Department of Telecommunications.
Among the 46 applicants is a company chaired by telecom consultant Sam Pitroda, Orissa cable TV promoter Jaggi Panda and J H Dalmia of Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Ltd.
Other lesser-known applicants like Mukesh Bhandari of Electrotherm India and software exporters V Madhavi and V Satish Kumar of Prithvi Information Solutions Ltd [Get Quote] are also in the fray.
Silicon Infoways promoted by Halycon Asia Investment, Delhi-based Anjney Loys Pvt Ltd and Meta Telecom promoted by Amit Gupta and Dalto Thread Ltd are also among the other applicants.
In some cases, the same group has filed more than one application. For instance, Unitech Ltd [Get Quote] has applied for 22 licences through eight companies.
The Mittal family, better known for its steel acumen, is also in the fray. Three companies -- Ispat Industries Ltd [Get Quote], Balasore Alloys [Get Quote] Ltd and Gontermann-Peipers (India) Ltd -- owned by Pramod and Vinod Mittal have put in three separate applications for nine licences, according to the details available with Business Standard.
Elder brother and one of the world's richest Indians, Lakshmi Mittal, is also in the fray through a minority stake in Indiabulls Real Estate Ltd [Get Quote], which has applied for 22 licences through a company called Selene Infrastructure Ltd.
Meanwhile, B K Modi-promoted MCorp Global has applied for 20 and 22 licences respectively through existing player Spice Communications Pvt Ltd and another company, Cellebrum.Com Pvt. Ltd.
"Cellebrum.com will offer third-generation mobile services," Modi said.
Aviation entrepreneur Ajay Singh and partners -- Ashish Singh, Praveen Singh and Ashish Deora -- own 25 per cent each in Allianz Infratech (P) Ltd which has applied for 22 licences.
"When we applied for the licences we were one of the earlier ones. But now it seems there are a host of companies that have also applied," said Singh.
Ortel's Jaggi Panda, wife of young Parliamentarian Jay Panda, said the move to apply for mobile licences made sense.
"We are already a cable operator in Orissa and will be able to synergise our business with telecom. Our aim is to offer voice calls at the cheapest rate as unlike other telcos we are not looking at this as our primary source of revenue. We have only applied for Orissa," Panda said.
While DoT has figured out most companies, officials are learnt to be seeking more details for others. For instance, S Tel Ltd, an applicant for 22 licences, is 51 per cent owned by a private Indian company, Skycity Foundations.
The remaining 49 per cent is owned by Telecom Investments (Mauritius) Ltd, a company that has invested in the Indian telecom services market in the past.
Nearly a dozen applicants have neither given the net worth of their promoters nor of the applicant company.
Another 10 companies have not given the details of their promoters' net worth of their promoters. The norms require a minimum net worth requirement of Rs 1,380 crore for a nationwide telecom licence.
India has a mobile subscriber base of around 200 million-odd and expects to hit 500 million by 2010.Powered by
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