“The nervousness is about the uncertainty of the policy”

More than a fortnight after the Supreme Court quashed 122 mobile telephone licences, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on Sunday said foreign investors had not lost confidence in the sector and would participate in the auction of the airwaves freed by the court judgment.

He also ruled out the possibility of foreign telecom investors quitting India in the wake of the verdict.

“There is no nervousness [among foreign investors],” said Mr. Sibal, who had met most of the foreign companies impacted by the apex court ruling.

“While some of them have indicated to me that they entered the market with a legitimate licence in the hands of somebody else ... and when I say to them that the Supreme Court has said that we need to auction [the spectrum] and that they can participate in the auction and they are more than happy to participate,” he told PTI here.

The Supreme Court had earlier this month cancelled 122 licences issued during the tenure of the then Telcom Minister, A. Raja, in 2008. Most of the cancelled licences belong to new operators like SSTL, Unitech Group companies, Etisalat DB, Videocon, STel and Loop.

Some of these firms had roped in foreign investors like Norway's Telenor, Russia's Sistema and Middle Eastern firm Etisalat for the rollout of telecom services in the country. “The nervousness is about the uncertainty of the policy and is not about this licence or that licence,” Mr. Sibal said, adding the ruling had brought out delinking spectrum or airwaves from licence.

“So to that extent, it brings clarity because now we will move forward with a unified licence,” he said.

Foreign investors who had pumped in billions of dollars in rolling out telecom services, were looking for clarity in policy matters, so that their investments were secure.

“They want a clearly demarcated, well-defined policy which will stand the test of time for the next 10-15 years, so that they can make their investment decisions in a manner that serves their larger economic interests and goals,” Mr. Sibal said. — PTI