Court muddles over licence extension; EGoM approves spectrum cap removal

5 Feb 2013

India’s Supreme Court has delayed a hearing of a case to extend the permits of operators that did not take part or failed to secure concessions in the November 2012 spectrum auctions. The Economic Times writes that the apex court delayed a hearing of the case from 4 February to 11 March for unspecified reasons, but has since brought the hearing forward again to conclude the matter before a new round of spectrum auctions are launched on 11 March – a new date is yet to be set. The case mainly affects Russian-backed cellco Sistema Shyam TeleServices (SSTL, also known as MTS India), which chose not to participate in the auction on the basis that it felt it had a strong case for overturning the original February 2012 order cancelling its licences. The matter remains unresolved, however, and SSTL may face closure if it cannot purchase new concessions.

In related news the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) has removed the cap on the amount of spectrum operators may bid for in the upcoming auctions. The decision still requires further approval, however.