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New Telco Roundup: Datacom Problems, Orissa Ops; Unitech Spectrum Timeline

If this ET sources are to be believed, the Dhoots (Videocon Group) and the Nahatas (HFCL Group) are close to thrashing out a resolution to their long standing dispute over new telco Datacom. Datacom has licenses to operate in all 22 circles, and should be a prime target for foreign investment, but the standoff between the two owners has led to a delay.

Mahendra Nahata may sell his stake in Datacom for Rs. 2116 crores, but is also open to raising funds to buy out the 64% that the Dhoots own. Remember that Nahata’s Jumbo Techno Services reportedly owned 90% in Datacom before the Dhoots picked up 64%. The dispute has been over the fund raising – Videocon was to invest $901 million in the company.

Since the dispute became public, Unitech has inked a deal with Telenor and Swan Telecom has sold stake to Etisalat, while Sistema has increased its stake in Shyam Telelink. Both Datacom and Loop Tele are yet to raise funds, and this delay must have cost them, at least in terms of valuation. For Datacom, it appears to be a game of Blink – which promoter will exit first.

Meanwhile, Datacom appears to be in the process of downsizing its Orissa operations: Business Standard reports that the company asked employees in Orissa to put in their papers, or lose their jobs. The head of the Orissa project has resigned too.

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Unitech Wireless has received 4.4 MHz of Spectrum in 1800 MHz GSM band for operations in 4 additional states: Assam, Rajasthan, North East and Jammu & Kashmir. With this, the company has received spectrum to operate in 20 of 22 circles – the fairly congested Delhi circle still remains.

Also worth noting is the amount of time it too for the spectrum to be allocated to Unitech – should give you an indication of how much time it will take new operators to launch services, even if they are able to share infrastructure. The Unitech timeline:

— Feb 29: Issued license for 22 Service Areas
— April 22: Tamil Nadu (including Chennai)
— April 24: Orissa
— May 21: Andhra Pradesh and Kerala
— May 28: Karnataka
— June 02: Madhya Pradesh
— Aug 28: Maharashtra, Mumbai, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh (East)
— Sep 10: Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh (West)
— Sep 25: Bihar
— October 03: Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Kolkata
— December 29: Assam, Rajasthan, North East and Jammu & Kashmir

How long will the rollout take?

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