Bharti Airtel cannot add new 3G customers in seven zones where it does not own the airwaves and offers the services through pacts with other carriers, the Supreme Court said on Thursday, pending a final ruling in the dispute.
Bharti can, however, continue 3G services in the zones for its existing customers, the court said, after hearing an appeal by India’s top telecommunications carrier challenging a government ban on 3G pacts between carriers.
Bharti, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular currently offer 3G services outside their licensed zones through pacts with each other as no carrier managed to win the airwaves for all of India in a 2010 auction.
The telecommunications ministry says the pacts are illegal. It had asked the carriers to end the pacts immediately and also imposed penalties on them.
Bharti named bidder in race for Myanmar mobile licences
Myanmar has announced the names of 12 international consortia that have pre-qualified to bid for two mobile licences, moving closer to opening one of the last major untapped mobile markets.
The companies include Bharti Airtel Ltd, China Mobile, Japan’s KDDI Corp, Africa’s MTN, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, Norway’s Telenor SA and Digicel, a group backed by billionaire George Soros.
“The pre-qualified applicants will be required to submit their applications to the committee by June 3, 2013,” the Telecommunications Operator Tender Evaluation and Selection Committee said on its website on Thursday.
The committee expects to announce the names of two winners to receive 15-year telecommunications licences by June 27, it said.
China Mobile has teamed up with Vodafone, while France Telecom-Orange is working with Marubeni, and Africa’s MTN with M1 Telecom and Amara Communications.
SingTel has joined with Myanmar Telephone Co Ltd and KBZ, while KDDI has teamed up with Japan’s Sumitomo Corp and Myanmar Information and Communication Technology Development Corp.
Other pre-qualifiers are Axiata Group, Millicom International Cellular SA, Qatar Telecom and Viettel Group.
The bidding has attracted wide interest from international telecoms firms, which see huge opportunities in a country of 60 million where mobile penetration is just 5-10 per cent, compared with rates of over 100 per cent in many developed markets.
Myanmar, where SIM cards are prohibitively expensive, has said it hopes to increase mobile penetration to 80 per cent in three years, lifting it off the bottom of the world’s ladder of mobile use.