Airtel, Vodafone, Aircel to participate in upcoming 2G spectrum auction

By Telecom Lead Team: Mobile service providers Bharti
Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Aircel among others plan to participate in the
upcoming 2G spectrum auctions following the recent cancellation of 122 licences
by the Supreme Court, according to Economic Times report.

These telcos will ask sector regulator Trai to ensure that the auction does not
discriminate between older players and the new entrants, who obtained licences
in 2008 that were quashed by the apex court earlier this month.

Vodafone Group chief executive Vittorio Colao, who is in Delhi, is learnt to
have apprised telecoms minister Kapil Sibal of the company’s plans to
participate in the upcoming 2G auctions. The Supreme Court in its February 2
order had directed that the 122 revoked licences be reassigned in four months
through an auction process.

Executives with all incumbent telcos point out that sector regulator TRAI’s
consultation process states the sale relates to allocation of spectrum through
auctions in 22 circles. “This clearly indicates that upcoming auctions are
about airwaves and not licences and that everyone can participate in it,”
said the regulatory head of a Delhi-based GSM operator.

A top executive with a leading GSM operator said all incumbents, in their
communications to TRAI, would also demand that if the government were to impose
a one-time fee for airwaves held beyond the 6.2 MHz limit, this charge should
be determined by the prices fetched in the upcoming auctions.

“We believe that any additional charge for airwaves beyond the beyond 6.2
MHz limit is illegal and violates license terms – even if such a charge is
imposed, it has to be on a prospective basis and it cannot be on done
retrospectively,” this executive added.

The incumbents’ stance contradicts the views of companies such as Uninor,
majority owned by Norway’s Telenor, whose licences in all 22 regions were
quashed by the Supreme Court. Telenor’s Asia head, Sigve Brekke, who is also
the managing director of Uninor, told media last week that the Supreme Court
verdict had specified that “fresh licences be granted by auction”.

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