SSTL petition to be heard on Thursday, new round of auctions in March

8 Jan 2013

The curative petition of Russian-backed provider Sistema Shyam TeleServices (SSTL), challenging the February 2012 decision to revoke its operating licences, is scheduled for a hearing on 10 January 2013, just over a week before the cellco will be obliged to shut down, the Business Standard reports. SSTL, which operates under the MTS India brand, chose not to participate in the spectrum auction in November, hoping instead to resolve the matter with the apex court. The telco counts the Russian Federation amongst its shareholders and has used that connection to heap diplomatic pressure on the Indian government, whilst also threatening to seek billions of dollars in damages under the Bilateral Investment Treaty.

SSTL is expected to receive support from the government in its case, after the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) recommended that another round of spectrum auctions be launched in March with a reduced price tag for CDMA frequencies. In order to allow providers such as SSTL to continue operating, a further extension to the deadline for closing down operations – currently set at 18 January – has been suggested.