Telecom licence rules due in 10 days: Raja

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New Delhi, Oct 4: Telecom Minister A Raja today said a government-appointed committee will issue fresh guidelines in ten days for awarding new licences to more companies.

The department of telecom (DoT) has received nearly 300 applications for universal access service licence (UASL), the deadline for which expired on October 1.

''The report will be submitted by the committee in ten days,'' Mr Raja told reporters on the sidelines of a conference.

There has been an unanimous decision among the telecom players for having no cap on the number of players, Mr Raja said, who met the industry players yesterday and took cognisance of all the issues.

The committee, set up by the government, has been entrusted with scrutinising the applications.

The companies which have sought licence include AT&T, Hindujas, DLF, Sterlite and Videocon and property developers Parsvnath, Unitech, Indiabulls Real Estate, Omaxe and DLF.

Most of the players have sought licences for all the 22 circles in the country.

Mr Raja had earlier said that a select number of applicants would be selected and DoT would be following a two-stage screening process. There are allegations by GSM players' lobby COAI that many applicants are front companies of existing players who are trying to circumvent existing restrictions.

Mr Raja said by 2010 India would have one rural mobile phone user for every five urban subscribers, up from one for every 25 now.

The Ministry is also committed to provide connectivity to 14,183 remote far flung villages through satellite phone terminals, he added.

''The telecom equipment manufacturing sector is expected to attract about 855 million dollars in next 1-2 years,'' he said.

The department will invite bids to set up 10,000 towers in rural areas, in the second phase of the government's thrust to improve rural teledensity, Telecom Secretary D S Mathur said, adding that 7,800 sites have been identified for network expansion in rural areas.

''We are in a process of giving out 25 million connections in the rural areas and another 35 million connections will be made available soon,'' he said.

The six per cent tele-density in rural areas in comparison to 22 per cent in urban areas is a major cause of concern, Mr Mathur said.

UNI

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