Indian incumbents plan to submit 2G bids

Dylan Bushell-Embling
15 Feb 2012

In the latest development in India's 2G license saga, major mobile operators are reportedly lining up to participate in the auction of the spectrum that will be revoked along with 122 2G licenses.

Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, Aircel and other incumbent operators plan to participate in the upcoming auction, India's Economic Timesreported, citing off-the-record interviews.

But operators preparing for the cancellation of their 2G licenses, including Uninor, have argued that third parties should not be allowed to participate in the spectrum auction.

At issue is early February's supreme court verdict ordering that the 122 2G licenses awarded in the disputed 2008 allocation be revoked.

Licenses held by S Tel, Videocon, Uninor, Swan Telecom, Loop, Idea, Tata Teleservices and Etisalat DB will be revoked at the start of June, and the associated spectrum will be re-auctioned.

Uninor, which entered the market through the spectrum auction, has argued that the verdict implies that the auction should be about allocating fresh licenses to the affected companies.

But executives with the incumbents told the Economic Times that they believe auctions are about spectrum not licenses, and that therefore the auction should be open to all comers.

The inclusion of more competition for the spectrum would make life even more difficult for Uninor and the other affected operators. Bahrain's Batelco has already exited the Indian market - by selling out of joint venture S Tel - in the wake of the verdict.

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