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Sistema Shyam asks India govt for temporary license

Indian operator writes to telecoms department for a temporary license so it can continue operating until the March auction, to avoid having the Supreme Court ordering it to shut down its services.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

Indian telco Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL) has asked the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for a temporary license so it can continue operating until next month's spectrum auction is held.

The move was prompted to avoid having the Indian Supreme Court order a cancellation of SSTL's existing license, forcing it to end operations, the Hindu Business Line reported Tuesday. Sistema Shyam is a joint venture between Russian conglomerate Sistema and India's Shyam Group.

Sistema Shyam is seeking a temporary license to continue its operations until the next month's spectrum auction.

Last Sunday, Uninor shut down its operations, affecting 1.8 million subscribers. The court ordered all operators to terminate services with immediate effect if they held 2G licenses revoked by the court in February 2012 and following that, did not win any new licenses during the auctions in November.

The next round of spectrum auction is scheduled for March 11 this year.

Data from the Telecom Regulation Authority of India (TRAI) indicates SSTL has 12.6 million customers in 21 service areas that will be affected by a court's order to cease operations, the Hindu Business Line report said.

In its letter to the DoT secretary, SSTL wrote: "In the event of any negative order from Supreme Court, we would request you to issue us temporary licenses till such time the auction process is completed and spectrum along with new licenses are issued to SSTL."

According to the report, SSTL said the Supreme Court's order on telcos did not apply to the company, and that a separate order be issued. It added it was "desirous of participating in the upcoming auction".

SSTL did not participate in the November auction for CDMA spectrum as it was awaiting the outcome of a petition it filed with the Supreme Court last May to reinstate its revoked permits and seek exemption from the court's ruling. But its request was rejected on February 14, 2013.

Sistema last week reportedly dropped its plan to buy Malaysian operator Maxis' stake in Indian telco Aircel. The Economic Times reported negotiations on price were inconclusive following the failed November spectrum auction. SSTL has repeatedly maintained it had no plans of acquiring a telecom service provider.

The CDMA auction eventually was scrapped after the two interested bidders Tata Teleservices and Videocon both pulled out.

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