Airtel, Vodafone denied request to stay auction

Dylan Bushell-Embling
telecomasia.net

India's Supreme Court has rejected a request to delay the upcoming auction of spectrum currently held by Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India.

The court has denied a stay on the upcoming auction but has kept pending the operators' request seeking a renewal of their existing 900-MHz licenses, First Post reported.

Airtel and Vodafone each hold 900-MHz spectrum in five and six telecom circles respectively that are due to expire in December after a 20-year term.

But the operators have argued that the terms of their licenses allow for a 10-year extension, but that the government is not honoring this term.

In the court filing, the operators have offered to pay either a fixed price or the auction-determined price for the spectrum, but stated that the licenses should not be taken from them.

The Indian government is preparing to auction spectrum in the 700-MHz, 800-MHz, 900-MHz, 1.8-GHz, 2.1-GHz, 2.3-GHz and 2.5-GHz bands.

The first of these auctions is planned for February, will involve spectrum in the 800-MHz, 900-MHz, 1.8-GHz and 2.1-GHz bands.

Because only 5MHz of the 2.1-GHz spectrum due to be allocated will be included, pundits are expecting a hotly competitive auction.

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