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Vodafone-Idea Merger Only After Clearances: Manoj Sinha

The much-awaited merger of the country’s second and third-largest telecom operators — Vodafone India and Idea Cellular — will occur only after the government completes the requisite clearances, telecom minister Manoj Sinha said on Tuesday.

“We have a set of rules guiding mergers and acquisitions, which is mandatory for the department to complete. The merger will not face any delay and be cleared swiftly provided all the statutory approvals are met,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the inauguration of Ericsson’s 5G test lab at IIT Delhi.

The merger, which will create a $23-billion entity, will be the country’s largest telecom operator beating Bharti Airtel.

At present, the merger has been cleared by the stock exchanges, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), Competition Commission of India (CCI) and the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). It now awaits clearance from the Department of Telecommunications.

Both the merging companies had said that they expect the process to be completed by June 2018.

Sources said the DoT is in process of raising a demand from Vodafone regarding one time spectrum charge (OTSC) dues, which are related to the merger of its group firms in 2015. This is besides the demand to be raised for Idea’s own pending OTSC dues.

Meanwhile, Sinha inaugurated telecom gearmaker Ericsson’s Centre of Excellence (CoE) and Innovation Lab for 5G at IIT Delhi. The company’s president andCEO, Borje Ekholm, was also present on the occasion.

The centre has been established to fast-track 5G deployments in India by bringing together telecom ecosystems, academia, industry and start-ups.

Ericsson also conducted India’s first 5G test over the air beam tracking demonstration on 3.5GHz spectrum using a pre-commercial end-to-end system. By beam steering — a highly-focused beam — a stronger radio signal with higher data throughput is delivered over a greater distance using less energy.

The results are spectral efficiency enhancement and gains for capacity, cell edge throughput and mean user throughput. – Financial Express

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