S Tel, Etisalat DB told to resume services

Dylan Bushell-Embling
Daily News

Indian regulator TRAI is leaning on S Tel and Etisalat DB to resume services within the next three days, despite the pending cancellation of their operating licenses.

S Tel and Etisalat DB have both shut down services following the Supreme Court's decision in February to revoke all 122 2G licenses awarded in 2008.

The court's decision will leave both operators without any operating licenses once the licenses are revoked on June 2.

But regulator TRAI has ordered both to resume services until that date, asserting that their license terms bound them to offer continuous service, MoneyControlreported.

TRAI claims that the licenses are still in effect until they are revoked, and because it was the courts and not the government which cancelled the licenses the obligation terms still apply.

But both S Tel and Etisalat DB have insisted that they cannot comply with the order. The companies have shut down their networks, and have been helping their erstwhile customers port to a new provider

Both joint ventures have also lost the support of their foreign partners, with the UAE's Etisalat moving to liquidate its assets in India, and Bahrain's Batelco having already sold its entire 42.7% stake in S Tel in the wake of the verdict.

TRAI has also ordered to companies to submit compliance reports within three days. If they do not comply with the regulator's orders, they may face penalties.

Separately, Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL) - another operator affected by the license cancellation - has revealed it will soon decide on its legal strategy, after the Supreme Court denied the company's request for a stay on the license cancellation order.

SSTL's CEO toldthe Economic Times the company is “in the last days of finalising the options” the company might pursue.

SSTL's parent company, Russia's Sistema, has threatened to initiate international arbitration over the impact of the decision, if the situation is not resolved by August 20.

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