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Govt to fix unified telecom licence norms in a month

The government will finalise within a month the framework for unified licencing (UL) that will enable users to get a host of services such as mobile, landline, DTH and cable television from a single company without the entity necessarily owning the full infrastructure. The regime will be finalised after considering all the legal options, Telecom Secretary R Chandrasekhar told reporters here on Thursday, his last day in office. 'UL documents need legal vetting. It should take around one month.'

Once the UL framework comes into force, telecom firms holding the licence will get to provide all services that existing licences permit as well as share spectrum and other active part of telecom infrastructure that were not permitted earlier. Telecom service providers who want to give any additional service apart from current offerings will have to go for UL . In case of merger and acquisitions also, firms need to go for UL.

Asked if a telecom auction can be conducted in April, Chandrasekhar replied said, 'It may take some more time.' Last week Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal had said that the government is likely to finalise the framework for unified licencing  in eight-10 days. 'It (unified licencing) has been cleared and now we are in the process of finalising it. We will then send it to the Ministry of Law and hopefully we should have a decision in eight-10 days,' Sibal had said during the National Editors Conference here.

'The regime has changed. Today the licence and spectrum are two separate things, previously the spectrum was with the licence at a cost of Rs 1,658 crore, today they are separate ... all the operators have to migrate to unified licencing,' Sibal had said on the occasion. The concept of unified licence is that players are free to provide all telecom services with one licence. However, these licences will not have spectrum bundled with them.
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