Norwegian telecom major Telenor on Monday said it would take part in the 2G spectrum auction following cancellation of its pan-India licence by a Supreme Court order, but did not rule out the exit option from the Indian market. The company also demanded that the proposed auction should be only among those operators who got licences in 2008 to ensure a level-playing field.
“In principle, we will go for auction, but I am not saying that whether we will win everything…the option of exit cannot be ruled out,” Telenor's Asia operations head and Uninor Managing Director Sigve Brekke told journalists here.
Telenor is present in India through a joint venture with real estate firm Unitech, which bagged the licence in 2008. Telenor holds 67.25 per cent stake in Uninor.
Pointing out that their decision to participate in auction would depend on the base price and the reserve price for the 2G spectrum, Mr. Brekke said the auction should only be among the new operators. The incumbent players, who already had spectrum, should not be allowed to participate to ensure a level-playing field to the affected operators.
Notably, post the apex court judgment, the top Uninor management has already met Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Chairman J. S. Sharma, while they have sought appointment from Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal.
Asserting that Telenor would take all legal measures to safeguard its interests, besides negotiating through diplomatic channels, Mr. Brekke pointed out that they had already invested over Rs.14,000 crore in its Indian operations and have nearly four crore subscribers. “We are not involved in any kind of wrongdoing…we came to India only after getting all necessary clearances from the government on the basis of valid telecom licences. We came to India to win…we came here to stay. We are now being treated unfairly,” he noted.
Mr. Brekke also accused incumbent mobile operators of engaging into ‘unethical' trade practices by poaching Uninor's subscribers. “We have already filed a complaint about it with the COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India)…we will also report to government authorities. We are also coming out with advertisement for our customers assuring that we are very much here,” he added.