Cellcos battle over 2G auction process

17 Feb 2012

The cellcos affected by the Supreme Court’s decision to revoke 122 2G licences have demanded that the Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) re-auction the concessions in two separate stages, one which excludes the incumbents and one to allow the incumbents to increase their frequency allocation. According to the Economic Times, the only cellcos to break ranks were Idea Cellular and Tata Teleservices, which had licences rescinded in seven and three circles respectively, and said that the upcoming 2G auction should be open to all players, including incumbents.

The operators that have had their licences cancelled are pushing to exclude entrenched operators from the auction, saying that the participation of the likes of Bharit Airtel and Vodafone would go ‘beyond the scope’ of the apex court’s ruling. Bharti, however, mirrored the response, warning that restricting access to the spectrum auction was in fact contrary to the court’s edict, and may lead to further litigation. Worse, by limiting the number of players involved, the TRAI would ‘suppress the market value of the spectrum.’

Amongst the compromises suggested are a two-stage bidding process, and the introduction of a ‘right of first refusal’ for providers in service areas in which they have already rolled out services.