Opinion on SC order on 2G spectrum: Supreme Court v/s India’s telecom ministry

Telecom Lead Asia: Indian wireless industry has seen several orders from the Supreme Court in the recent past.

Has Supreme Court taken into consideration the damages these orders cause to Indian telecom sector? Who should be Supreme in India’s telecom matters? – India’s apex court? Or telecom ministry headed by Kapil Sibal?

On February 15, 2013, India’s apex court said telecom operators who did not participate in 2G auction or grab the second generation airwaves cannot continue mobile operation in India. This means that Sistema Shyam Teleservices, Uninor, Tata Teleservices, Idea Cellular, etc. need to stop working now in select circles. Otherwise, they need to participate in March 2013 auction and resume work. It does not look feasible.


TelecomLead.com, India’s top B2B online media for the telecom industry, has been demanding for a long term policy.

Let us analyze the Supreme Court interventions and inaction of Communications Ministry.

The Supreme Court, if the bench feels that it has enough expertise to handle India’s telecom (de-growth) story, should have given proper and effective direction to the industry on 2nd February 2012 when the shock wave begun affecting telecom industry’s bottle lines. Orders and directions – misinterpreted by the mobile industry in most occasions – are coming in several phases.

Today’s order is coming after more than one year. Though the February 2, 2012 order catapulted the entire telecom ministry, A Raja, India’s ex-telecom minister, is cooling off at present. Indian telecom stakeholders do not know the actual “wrong doings” by our ex-telecom minister. Has he just violated spectrum release laws? Has he benefitted financially by offering spectrum to certain companies?

If our telecom ministry or other ministries were capable of handling the show, things would have been different.

PMO headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should have revoked the 2G spectrum release after convincing the stakeholders. PMO could have instead revealed their intention to make business out of this deal by saying: “We will conduct a new money making scheme – where all operators can participate. To support all operators, the industry can buy 2G spectrum at their own prices. First preferences will be given to operators who lost licenses.”

This would have given opportunity to all and all operators would have  participated.

Is Indian telecom ministry silent? I cannot say it is inactive because Kapil Sibal is planning to discuss FDI plans with European countries. He is also batting for tax reduction on tablets and smartphones. I am sure an improved Aakash will come to our work rooms shortly. We must congratulate telecom minister for articulating the needs of Indians.

But telecom ministry misses several opportunities..

1)      Can telecom ministry take responsibility for our pathetic broadband penetration?

2)      Can telecom ministry ensure better broadband speed?

3)      Can DoT and TRAI ensure better quality of service to mobile users in India?

4)      Can someone ask 3G and 4G operators to complete their roll outs in the next 1 year?


Baburajan K

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