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Uninor to shut operations in Kolkata, West Bengal

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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.

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