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Indian Telecom In Turmoil: Unitech Wireless, Licenses, ILD, Chargesheets, Spectrum

A brief overview of what’s making news in the telecom space, especially around the 2G spectrum scam.

–  Swan Telecom director Vinod Goenka, Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd managing director Sanjay Chandra, and three top officials of Reliance ADA Group – Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair are in a Tihar prison cell after a special CBI court rejected their bail plea in the 2G spectrum allocation scam. Their bail plea will be heard on Tuesday. MoneyLife.

– Unitech Wireless MD Sanjay Chandra isn’t acceding to the resignation demand by its Norwegian partner Telenor (details). Telenor has invested INR 61 billion in Unitech Wireless and holds a 67.25 per cent ownership share, and company has almost 25 million customers in India. A charge sheet from India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) names both Chandra and Unitech Wireless. In the meantime, Chandra has asked Unitech Wireless’ board to appoint an alternate director for dealing with company affairs, but hasn’t resigned as Managing Director, according to a report in the Economic Times. We haven’t been able to find a copy of the note from Unitech confirming this, and have written to them.

– More than five months after TRAI recommended the  cancellation of 69 licences for not rolling out mobile services in time, the department of telecom (DoT) has issued only eight notices, referring instead to the definition of coverage in licence conditions. The Financial Express

– Telecom secretary, R. Chandrasekhar, has said that his department has received replies from all operators who were issued show cause notices for not meeting the eligibility criteria for licences, and that the government will soon decide on action against companies found guilty. Deccan Chronicle

– The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has begun an inquiry into issuance of ILD licence to Data Access in 2002 which was later cancelled after the company failed to pay dues of over Rs 219 crore to BSNL and DoT. TelecomTiger

– The special CBI court, will file a second chargesheet today, in connection with the 2G scam. CBI sources reveal that it might feature Tamil Nadu CM’s daughter Kanimozhi and wife, Dayaluammal. NDTV

–  CBI says that Ravindra Kumar Chandolia, private secretary to former telecom minister A. Raja, rented out a flat in South Delhi to DN Realty, a firm promoted by Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka of Swan Telecom. express buzz

– Former Finance Secretary and present RBI Governor D Subbarao told the CBI that he had repeatedly objected to the  pricing of spectrum by former Telecom Minister A Raja. The Pioneer

– The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) is likely to receive DoT’s answers to a questionnaire sent by various agencies investigating the 2G scam, by today. Deccan Chronicle

– The DoT has decide to levy a fine of Rs 150 crore on old telecom operators for not rolling out their networks in time, in the past. The list includes Bharti Airtel, Tata Teleservices, RCom, Aircel and others. The Economic Times

– DoT, which had earlier set up a committee to probe and suggest a penalty amount on Tata Communications and Bharti Airtel for the violation of ILD licence norms, has said that the mistake was solely on the part of SingTel which invoiced customers at the Indian end. Hindustan Times

– The Government is still not sure if it wants to auction 2G spectrum at appropriate price, in the future or follow the TRAI’s recommendations for increasing the spectrum price six-times. Business Standard

– The Telecom Ministry has informed the Finance Ministry that the charges for spectrum (other than 2G and 3G bands) used by the Defence amount to  Rs 1.31 lakh crore. Governance Now

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