India GSM players slam 2G auction prices

Dylan Bushell-Embling
31 Jan 2013

Indian GSM operators including Vodafone India has taken issue with the government's decision to slash the reserve price for 800-MHz CDMA spectrum or an upcoming auction.

Vodafone India has written to the nation's telecom secretary calling the move to reduce the reserve price by 50% “illegal” and “discriminatory,” Press Trust of India reported.

The price cut means the reserve for 900-MHz spectrum is three times that of 800-MHz, Vodafone India complained.

The operator is seeking the withdrawal of the recently-approved guidelines for the second round of auctions to reallocate the spectrum to be vacated by the cancellation of 122 2G operating licenses.

GSM lobby group the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has meanwhile called on the government to also halve the reserve price for the 900-MHz and 1800-MHz GSM airwaves to be auctioned off, Economic Timesreported.

Norway's Telenor, which operates the Uninor brand in India, has also threatened to sit the second round out if the GSM reserve in the Mumbai circle is not cut by at least 50%.

The government decided to reduce the reserve price for CDMA spectrum after an earlier, aborted attempt to auction off the airwaves attracted no bids.

A concurrent auction of 1,800-MHz spectrum spectrum also ended in relative failure, with the government shifting just 42% of the airwaves put up for auction. The auction drew no bids for the major telecom circles of Delhi, Mumbai, Karnataka and Rajasthan.

COAI blamed an unrealistically high reserve price for the muted response to the auction.

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