Will India cancel March’s 2G spectrum auction?

Telecom Lead Asia: India will be forced to cancel / postpone 2G spectrum auction as telecom ministry did not receive any bid from GSM players and Sistema Shyam (MTS India) was the only CDMA player to submit bid on Monday.

Among GSM players, Uninor was expected to bid for Mumbai, one of the top telecom circles in India.

During the November 2012 spectrum auction, wireless operators such as Vodafone, Airtel, Idea Cellular, Videocon, etc. participated. Due to weak economy, several operators are not aiming to spend huge fee for 2G spectrum.

In addition, India is becoming a weak telecom market for doing business.

The total AGR for the 12 players, who report revenue numbers to TRAI, fell a tad 0.1 percent to Rs 25,793 crore. After reporting the two-year high of Rs 26,088 crore in the June 2012 quarter, AGR has been on a decline since then.

According to TRAI, telecom service providers — Airtel and Reliance Communications lost market shares of adjusted gross revenue in the domestic market to rivals Vodafone, Idea Cellular, and Aircel for the December 2012 quarter compared with the previous quarter.

The aggregate revenue for the 12 operators fell sequentially for the second consecutive quarter reflecting continued pressure on top lines, Economic Times reported.

The proportion of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) of Airtel slid by 70 basis points (bps) sequentially to 30.5 percent. Reliance Communications, the fifth biggest based on AGR, reported 50 bps drop in AGR at 7.1 percent.

India government’s November 2012 spectrum sale was also a flop show as it could not meet its targets.

Uninor had earlier asked the telecom ministry to bring down the base price of spectrum for Mumbai. Recently, Uninor — a part of Telenor — shut down its business in Mumbai circle.

MTS India — as per its recent announcement to downsize India mobile operations to 10 circles from the earlier 21 circles — may not be able to participate in the auction as it is the only bidder for 800MHz.

During the November 2012 auction, the government did not conduct auction for 800MHz as it did not receive bids.

DoT website says no applications have been received for the auction
of spectrum in 1800MHz and 900MHz bands.

The telecom industry is waiting for further action from the Supreme Court.

The lack of interest in participating — from Videocon and Uninor — for further spectrum hints at further increase in mobile tariff. If there is no competition from new players, Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone, TTSL and Reliance Communications will be in a position to increase mobile charges.

Anand B
[email protected]