Report: India denies discrimination against foreign telcos

India's Department of Telecommunications to inform disgruntled foreign telcos decision to cancel 2G licenses were dealt with "as per law of land" with no discrimination.

India's Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will inform foreign telecom operators which had their existing 2G licenses cancelled that no discriminatory policy was used, and the Supreme Court's judgement was "on a fair and equitable basis".

The Economic Times reported Monday that after their 2G licenses were revoked in February, telecom operators such as Norway's Telenor , Russia's Sistema, Mauritius' Capitol Global and Kaif Investment, and Malaysia's Axiata Group, served notices to the Indian government for alleged breach of bilateral investment protection agreements (BIPAs).

In response, the DoT plans to reply saying that as the licenses remain operational until Sep. 7 this year, the alleged breach has yet to happen, it said, adding the government agency is in the process of sending out its response to these companies.

Additionally, the DoT asserted that no discrimination against foreign companies was committed during the Supreme Court ruling.

In its draft response revealed by Economic Times, the agency said: "The government of India is of the view that this judgment applies on a fair and equitable basis on all licenses. It is added that there is no discriminatory policy or practice being applied against the license where you (the investor) has equity investment.

"All the issues related to licensing are being dealt with as per the law of the land on a fair and equitable basis... this judgment applies on a fair and equitable basis and is also being extended treatment no less than we accord in like circumstances to Indian investors and investments."

The Indian government is also open to talks for an amicable resolution for the alleged dispute, the report stated.

Last Friday, the country's Union Cabinet finally set the reserve price for the upcoming auction of 2G spectrum licenses. For 5 megahertz (MHz) of pan-India 2G spectrum in the 1800MHz band, the reserve price is at INR 140 billion (US$2.5 billion), which is INR 41 billion (US$739.2 million) less than the recommendation by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).


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