Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan on Wednesday said the ministry has issued the demand letter to Vodafone India and Idea Cellular for completing their merger and it is in their interest to clear the dues as soon as possible. We have raised the demand and it’s in their interest to pay as soon possible. They have also told us that they wish to complete the process soon,” Sundararajan told reporters on the sidelines of an event. Telecom minister Manoj Sinha also said the department of telecommunications (DoT) is working fast to finalise merger of the country’s top two operators.
“Once both the operators complete the formalities, we will give a final nod.” The DoT has asked Idea to pay Rs 3,926 crore in cash for Vodafone’s spectrum and furnish a bank guarantee of Rs 3,342 crore. A senior DoT official indicated that Idea may pay some of the dues like the difference between the entry fee and the market-determined price of administrative spectrum allocated to Vodafone, but is likely to challenge the bank guarantee bit.
However, but this could not be verified from the companies concerned. Meanwhile, Sinha also said the government would soon clear the proposal of BSNL for acquiring spectrum in 2100 MHz band for launching 4G services. “We’ll find way to give 4G spectrum to BSNL. We are seriously considering it,” the minister said.
BSNL has proposed that it be given 5 MHz chunk of 2100 MHz 4G spectrum in 19 circles, except Rajasthan (where it intends to use own 800 MHz spectrum) for providing 4G services. BSNL CMD Anupam Shrivastava said the government would give the 4G spectrum on market rates to the state-run telecom operator and expects the proposal to be cleared by August.
The spectrum is worth around Rs 16,000 crore, which the company will pay through equity infusion and cash. BSNL has proposed that the government can provide Rs 10,000 crore in cash for purchasing the spectrum, which it will repay in 10 years in equal annual installments. The remaining Rs 6,000 crore can be given through equity infusion. Shrivastava said BSNL also plans to invest around Rs 7,000 crore on technology and network upgrade for launching 4G services.