India sets Oct 1 deadline for telecoms applications
NEW DELHI, Sept 24 |
NEW DELHI, Sept 24 (Reuters) - India will not accept any new telecoms licence applications after October 1, the telecommunications ministry said in a statement on Monday, but did not give any reason for the decision.
A spate of new applications from firms with no prior telecoms experience has been lodged, with real-estate to technology firms expressing an interest in joining the world's fastest growing mobile phone market.
India, now adding about 8 million mobile users every month, is forecast to top 500 million subscribers in five years, from 200 million now, making it an attractive market for investment.
The rapid growth has led to a paucity of spectrum in large cities. Carriers have requested the government to allot fresh frequencies to ease congestion, including those currently used by the defence forces.
Existing GSM operators want the government to give them preference as many have had applications pending since December 2006, when the government last issued licences.
India's second-ranked mobile operator Reliance Communications (RLCM.BO), which has most of its subscribers on the CDMA platform, is asking for licences on the dominant GSM platform.
But new entrants are also vying for spectrum, arguing established firms have failed to efficiently use the frequencies already allocated to them.
Earlier on Monday, India's telecoms minister, Andimuthu Raja, said the government would form new guidelines to help it scrutinise applications and narrow down the list of interested firms, given the limited spectrum available.
"The broad guidelines are there ... The procedural guidelines have to be formulated to avoid more complications and thus select very few," Raja told reporters.
"We want to satisfy all, with a legitimate and transparent process," the minister said.
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