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Swan Telecom Under Investigation; Where’s The Transparency In Alottment Of Licenses To All New Telcos?

The ownership of Swan Telecom has come under question. An investigation into Swan, a telecom operator backed by a real estate firm in Mumbai called Dynamix Balwas Group, is being authorised by the DoT in response to a letter sent by some members of Parliament to the PM, reports The Economic Times. While Reliance Communication has stated that it has sold its majority shares to the DB Group, it is being alleged that Swan was owned by RCOM when it applied for license.

Swan has licenses for 13 circles, spectrum for 10 circles including Delhi, and is expected to be operational around April 2009. Last September, Middle East’s leading mobile operator Etisalat bought a 45% stake in the company, which was worth around $900 million.

Nikhil adds: Some telecom players I spoke to yesterday at the FICCI-BDA seminar on 3G pointed at the ease with which Swan Telecom they pulled off something of a coup: they inked an intra-circle roaming agreement with BSNL, which they allegedly allows them to operate in all circles on BSNLs network, without having the license to do so.

Which takes us back to the question of transparency in alottment of licenses. Do we know the criterion on which basis licenses were handed out the following companies:

— Allianz Infratech (P) Ltd.
— Datacom Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
— Loop Telecom Private Ltd.
— S Tel Ltd.
— Shyam Telelink Limited
— Swan Telecom Pvt. Ltd.
— Unitech Wireless Pvt. Ltd.

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And why were others like, say, Cheetah Telecom and DLF, refused? Since telecom is an industry with national security implications, do we know (beyond conjecture and the grapevine), the shareholding patterns of some of these companies, and the company behind the company behind the Mauritius based company that owns shares? If public listed companies need to provide adequate disclosures (now, more than ever), so should telecom operators.

In this context, do read: Allianz To Sell Telecom License To Swan Just 2 Months After Receiving It

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