New Delhi: Telecom operator Uninor on Monday said it will shut operations in two circles of Kolkata and West Bengal as the company is unlikely to get spectrum there.
Uninor, in which Norwegian telecom major Telenor holds a majority stake, was among the operators whose licences were cancelled by the Supreme Court in February. Its licences are valid till January 18, 2013.
"The company will issue a public notice to all its customers in Kolkata and West Bengal requesting them to exhaust their balance by January 18, 2013, and utilise mobile number portability to port out to any other operator of choice," Uninor said in a statement.
In these two circles, Uninor has a subscriber base of 5.6 million. It has suspended supply of new SIM cards and recharges in the two circles with immediate effect.
"With no new 1800 Mhz spectrum auctions being indicated by the authorities and 900 Mhz spectrum is also likely not be available to auction winners in 2013, Uninor will have to stop its operations in the two circles of Kolkata and West Bengal on January 19, 2013," Uninor said in a statement.
However, it will continue operations in Mumbai circle as the Telenor Group "evaluates the possibility of participating in the second auction for spectrum in Mumbai indicated by the Indian authorities".
Post January 18, assets and business of Uninor will be transferred to a new entity 'Telewings Communications', in which Norwegian firm Telenor would have 74 percent stake.
Telenor participated in recent spectrum auction through Telewings and has won spectrum for six circles — Uttar Pradesh East, Uttar Pradesh West, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra — for around Rs 4,018 crore.
Telewings will scale up operations in these circles in the months to come, the statement said.
Uninor operations in 12 other circles where minimal obligatory rollout has been conducted to meet the licence conditions will also cease on January 19, 2013 resulting from the same Supreme Court order, it added.
"While we have ensured continuity in six circles, licence cancellation and no new spectrum likely to be available through auctions in 2013 means we will discontinue operations in Kolkata and West Bengal," the company said.
In July this year, Uninor had scaled down operations in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Orissa, while increasing focus on nine areas, including UP East, UP West, Bihar and Jharkhand, Kolkata, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Mumbai.
In Kolkata and West Bengal, the focus now is on conducting the process of closure with full transparency and responsibility to minimise the negative impact this outcome will have on all those affected by it, Uninor Managing Director Sigve Brekke said.
The process of business transfer has already been initiated to ensure that services to all Uninor customers in these circles continue uninterrupted.
"Our priority in these six circles is to seamlessly transfer the Uninor business to the new company ... In these circles, Uninor is stronger than before and more eager than ever. We will be a tough competitor and continue to be 'sabse sasta' for all our customers while we achieve our break-even in each of these circles," Brekke said.
Uninor will look at relocating some of its employees from Kolkata and West Bengal to other circles and also provide assistance in securing employment outside the company.
The company will also hire outplacement agencies to assist its employees in such placements.
Uninor is also making roaming arrangements to ensure that Uninor customers in circles, where services continue, are able to use their number while travelling to other states.
The company has also started the process of settlement of outstandings with retailers and distributors in Kolkata and West Bengal.


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