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Tele Data

Mobile Subscribers Yearwise comparision

Incumbents and operators facing licence cancellation differ over spectrum auction

February 17, 2012

The Supreme Court’s verdict in the 2G spectrum case continues to impact all factions of the telecom space.

Currently, the operators who face licence cancellation are at odds with the older players over which companies should participate in the upcoming spectrum auction.

Companies like Videocon, Sistema Shyam TeleServices Limited (SSTL), Uninor, Loop, etc, who face licence cancellation, have asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to split the auction into two rounds, with different base prices.

They have said that only those players whose licenses were cancelled by the Supreme Court and other new entrants, who plan to foray into the Indian telecom space, ought to participate in the first stage of the bidding process, which is for start-up spectrum. Further, they said that incumbents such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone should only be allowed in the second phase, which would be for additional airwaves.

The only exceptions to this are Idea Cellular and Tata Teleservices Limited, whose licences were canceled in seven and three circles respectively by the Court.

These companies have also asked TRAI to ensure that the base price for spectrum in the first round of auctions be set at Rs 16.58 billion.

Also, these operators have asked the regulator to ensure that the all fees and charges, including entry fee and the value of financial and performance bank guarantees already paid, should be considered as part of the bid amount already committed by the 2008 licensees. The companies added that this amount be accordingly reduced from the bid amount payable by such licensees after the price has been determined through the proposed auction.

Meanwhile, incumbents such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) have asked TRAI to ensure that the auction of bandwidth be open to all operators. For example, in a written communication to TRAI, Vodafone India has said, "This will ensure the most efficient allocation of the spectrum, and is necessary to derive a fair market price.”

Similarly, Bharti Airtel has informed the regulator that if the upcoming bandwidth sale is restricted to a specific class of operators, it would be contrary to the judgment of the Supreme Court and may give rise to the litigation once again. Further, it may favour only one set of players and suppress the market value of the spectrum due to the participation of the limited number of operators.

However, the companies under scrutiny have an altogether different view. These companies feel that the Court had ordered that the licences be issued through auctions, and therefore incumbents were excluded as they were not eligible to apply for fresh license due to their respective existing licenses.


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