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Vodafone Says Indian Regulator Rejects Renewal of Mobile Permits

Vodafone Says Indian Regulator Rejects Renewal of Mobile Permits
A Vodafone shop in Kolkata, India, Jan. 20, 2012. Photographer: Bikas Das/AP Photo

Vodafone Group Plc’s application to renew licenses for second-generation wireless services in key Indian cities was rejected by the Department of Telecommunications, the carrier said today.

The company has held the permits for Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata service areas for 18 years, Vodafone’s Indian unit said in an e-mailed statement. Vodafone filed a petition in February challenging the telecommunications department’s decision to re-auction the licenses, which expire in 2014.

“This decision is against the interests of our several million customers in these cities,” Vodafone said in its statement. The licenses are in the 1,800 megahertz and 900 megahertz band.

A spokesman for Newbury, England-based Vodafone declined to comment beyond the statement.

India is seeking to raise at least 700 billion rupees ($13 billion) from operators from spectrum sales and a one-time fee to help pare the country’s budget deficit. Last year, the Supreme Court canceled 122 telecommunications licenses saying their allocation had flouted rules, leading to customer losses at Tata Teleservices Maharashtra Ltd. and Norway’s Telenor ASA.

Vodafone is also waiting to resolve a $2.2 billion dispute with Indian tax authorities over the 2007 acquisition of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.’s Indian business.

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