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India’s Supreme Court threatens to cancel Aircel spectrum licences 

India’s Supreme Court has warned that it will strip wireless provider Aircel of its spectrum resources if Malaysian businessman Ananda Krishnan’s does not appear in court to respond to allegations of bribery by 3 February 2017. The billionaire controls Aircel’s parent company Maxis Communications, which has been accused of paying a INR7.13 billion (USD105.04 million) bribe to secure spectrum in 2006. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) brought charges against Mr Krishnan – along with two other officials and the telecom minister at the time, Dayanidhi Maran – in 2014, and issued warrants for his arrest in September 2016 after several summons were ignored.In issuing its ultimatum, the court said: ‘We can’t allow anyone to use the assets of this country and run away from the process of law … if he wants to use the spectrum, he must come here and face the law.’ In the meantime, the court has put a temporary halt on Aircel selling or transferring its spectrum assets. Further, it has requested the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to devise a way to ensure Aircel’s customers are not adversely affected and can continue to receive services from an alternative provider in the event that the apex court cancels the cellco’s spectrum licences.

---Safaricom, Kenya’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, has paid a fee of USD25 million for a licence to provide 4G LTE services across the country. The Communications Authority of Kenya’s (CA’s) Director of Human Resources, as said that the country’s other two wireless network operators, Airtel and Telkom Kenya, ‘are still in the process of doing [LTE] trials, after which they shall be given offers for a 4G licence [during] the course of 2017’. Safaricom has already launched a limited LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network in Nairobi and Mombasa in December 2014, with coverage of other major towns added in October 2016.

*** Ooredoo Maldives has revealed that it has inaugurated its 1,200km Domestic Submarine Cable System linking the six main islands in the Maldives, following the landing of the cable at its final landing station in Kulhudhuffushi. The USD25 million submarine network – which has six landing stations, situated in Hithadhoo, Thinadhoo, Hulhumale, Kolhufushi, Eydhafushi and Kulhudhuffushi – leverages 100Gbps technology and has a design capacity of 3.2Tbps; the network was deployed by Huawei Marine. The Maldives is currently served by three submarine cable networks, namely: Dhiraagu Cable Network (which connects the nation’s main atolls), WARF Submarine Cable (which provides onward connectivity from the Maldives to Sri Lanka and India) and the Maldives-India Dhiraagu-SLT Submarine Cable Network.The UK government has reportedly agreed to grant nearly GBP5 million (USD6.17 million) to the British overseas territory of Montserrat – which is part of the Lesser Antilles chain – in order to help fund broadband expansion including the rollout of submarine fibre-optic cabling to the tiny Caribbean island.

***Brazilian telecom operator Oi and TIM are involved in a dispute that has gone from administrative to judicial regarding the payment of rent for Oi infrastructure used by TIM. This has already affected about 30 small municipalities that were temporarily without internet or voice services in December, and some cities had both services compromised. The case should have new developments in the coming days.The companies said they will submit their calculations soon to the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) and will hold meetings to discuss the issue. TIM expects to end the case within fifteen days.TIM Brasil is claiming BRL 55 million in the form of discounts for delays in the delivery of services, while Oi estimates that between October and December, TIM stopped paying BRL 73 million.

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