Govt asks Idea to surrender overlapping licences,declines fee refund

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New Delhi, Aug 11 (UNI) The government has asked Idea Cellular to surrender one of its licences and categorically said it would not refund the licence fee.

''Policy is very clear. What will one do with two licences? You need just one to offer the service. Obviously, Idea has to return one licence (in each circle) but there wouldn't be any refund for this,'' Telecom Secretary Sidhharth Behura said here today.

The government had earlier asked Idea to surrender either its licence or that of its latest acquisition of Spice Communications in Punjab and Karnataka to avoid overlapping.

However, Idea Cellular official, who did not wish to be named, said they had received no such communication from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

This could result in Idea losing about Rs 300 crore in the process.

Analysts believe Idea could choose to give up its own licences and retain Spice licences in both the circles as Spice has 800 MHz spectrum in these two areas which can accommodate more users.

Spice, with 4.4 MHz spectrum in Karnataka and Punjab, is already in operation, while Idea is yet to start service.

Idea Cellular, which had acquired a majority stake in Spice Communications in June for about Rs 2,700 crore, had sought clarity on the licencing issues from the DoT.

The DoT, in its response, had said post-merger with Spice, Idea would have to return one of the licences in each circle of Punjab and Karnataka.

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