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Tata-Virgin tie-up can go ahead, says DoT

The Department of Telecommunications says it will not stop Tata Teleservices from launching mobile phone services in partnership with Britain's Virgin Mobile.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2008 07:24 PM IST

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Wednesday said it will not stop Tata Teleservices from launching mobile phone services in partnership with Britain's Virgin Mobile, but it sought "information" on the deal, a senior official said.

"We have asked them for information to see if it is consistent with licensing conditions but that does not stop them from commercially launching their services that they have announced with Virgin," Siddhartha Behura, Secretary of DoT, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference here.

"We have sent our request to the Tatas and we are awaiting their reply... there's no deadline, they can reply whenever they can. Of course, we will send them a reminder," Behura added.

"Launching is not a concern. They can definitely launch their services until there's a violation of licenses, but I am sure they have checked all the legalities before going ahead with this."

Behura also hinted at allowing Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) under which companies can buy airtime from mobile players and sell it in their own brands.

"We are open to considering MVNO as a policy. Indian telecom market is maturing for this. However, some operators have sought clarifications on this and we are looking at looking at it."

Telecom operators under the GSM technology of mobile telephony have been against such as a move alleging that this is not allowed under the existing licensing rules.

Tata Teleservices, a dominant rival CDMA player, announced on March 2 their partnership with Virgin for launching several value-added services for its handsets.

But according to the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), this has been a clear violation of the telecom licence.

"It may be appreciated that in the event that the company is acting/operating as a franchisee of Tata Teleservices, then its services can be retailed only under the Tata Indicom brand. However, at present this is not the case," TV Ramachandran, director general of COAI, had said on Tuesday.

The body has shot two letters on this to the DoT, seeking its intervention.

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