The government is unlikely to allow any merger or acquisitions among the third generation, or 3G, mobile service providers to ensure competition.
“There will be no merger and acquisition guidelines for 3G (services) as to ensure competition among the 3G operators. The NIA (Notice Inviting Application) will prohibit merger of successful bidders in the current auction,” the Department of Telecom (DoT) said in an internal note, which is a compilation of its reply to the prospective 3G bidders’ query on these issues.
If these rules come to play post 3G auction, then an existing telecom players who win 3G licences, will not be able to merge with any other telecom operator.
The note also states the new 3G entrants, who would able to secure 2G licences after paying the due amount as per the policy, however, cannot aspire to get spectrum any sooner than those 2G licensees who are in the waiting list.
As per the current 3G guidelines, new entrants that successfully bid for 3G frequencies will also be eligible for 2G spectrum, used by the current mobile service providers in the country.
The DoT has made it clear that these players would only get the start-up spectrum subject to availability while the existing UAS licensees, who have not been allocated start-up spectrum, will have priority over any potential new entrant.