Telenor is a Norwegian company that deals in telecommunications. It is headquartered in Fornebu, Norway. The company majorly deals in Scandinavia and Asia in the form of broadband and TV distribution systems.

In India, it was known as Uninor and was owned entirely by the Telenor Group. In Feb of 2017, it announced its merging with Bharti Airtel. This was a no-cash deal, as Airtel would take over its outstanding payments of 1650 Crore Rupees in reference to regulatory approvals.

Early Days

The company was founded in 2008 and was awarded wireless licenses for all 22 telecom circles. Later in December of 2009, it launched in eight of those circles and provided the fastest rollout of GSM services in India. After 6 months, it added 5 more circles to its network in the form of metropolitan cities like Mumbai and Kolkata.

Uninor grew from 0 to 45 million subscribers from 2008 to 2012, and it was leading the pack of companies who were given telecom licenses in 2008, by far. This was possible due to its targeted offerings and dynamic pricing. This allowed customers to get discounted prices based on the network traffics in the area. This did change with time and location, but it helped them to gain a large number of loyal customers too.

Cancellation of License

In Feb of 2012, the Supreme Court cancelled licences of 22 companies, and Uninor was one of them. So, it had to scale down and cancelled its operations in Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, and Tamil Nadu. They did this in order to prepare for the 2012 spectrum auction and decided to focus just on the top-performing circles. Their plan did work, as they won back licenses and spectrum in 6 more circles. They were UP (East), UP (West), Uttarakhand, Bihar, and Jharkhand.

Sale to Airtel

In Feb of 2017, the Economic Times reported that Airtel had entered discussions for acquiring Telenor India. As a part of the deal, Airtel was supposed to capture all of their assets and customers in India. At the time Telenor was operating in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujrat, Uttar Pradesh East, Uttar Pradesh West, and Assam. Airtel will also gain 43.4 MHz spectrum in the 1800 MHz band from the company.

Later in June of 2017, the company gained regulatory approvals from SEBI, stock exchange, and CCI. In August the deal was approved by the National Company Law Tribunal, giving it the final confirmation.

Even though Telenor merged with Airtel, its 4000 employees were retained. Telenor wanted a bank guarantee from Airtel regarding this, but the Supreme Court dismissed it and gave it a go ahead.

Telenor’s Networking in India

In 2017, Telenor had 42 Million subscribers in India. They were distributed in the following states:

  • Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
  • Assam
  • Bihar and Jharkhand
  • UP East
  • Gujarat
  • Maharashtra and Goa
  • Karnataka
  • UP West

4G Service by Telenor

In 2016, the company also launched the 4G network. However, it was limited only to the city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. They used the world’s first Lean GSM Networking which was developed by Huawei. It allowed it to deploy narrow band LTE on 1800 MHz spectrum, which made the compression of data easy, hence, improving the efficiency.

Discontinued Circles by Telenor

  • West Bengal- Feb 2013
  • Karnataka- July 2012
  • Kerala- July 2012
  • Kolkata-Feb 2013
  • Orissa- July 2012
  • Tamil Nadu-July 2012
  • Mumbai- Feb 2013

About 2G License Controversy

Telenor was one of the first companies which received the license for 2G in 2008. The method for allocation of these services was first come-first served ones, and it was a subject of controversy on the National Scale. Telenor was one of the 8 companies which were under Unitech and received telecom licenses.

These licenses were the basis of investment in the international Telecom group. This led to the investigation of the company’s Managing Director Sanjay Chandra by the Central Bureau of Investigation. In 2011, he was taken into custody by CBI along with other individuals. Later he was released on bail, awaiting settlement in Indian Courts.