Some big names shun 2G auction

High price cited for absence of RIL, Sistema

Some big names shun 2G auction

Major telecom players, including Airtel, Vodafone and Norway’s Telenor, have bid for participating in the upcoming 2G spectrum auction, but Russia’s Sistema besides Aircel, RCom and Reliance Industries led by Mukesh Ambani stayed away.

As the deadline for submission of applications for bidding ended on Friday evening, industry termed that many players did not bid because of high base price.

Other telecom companies which have submitted applications are Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices and Videocon Industries. Norway’s Telenor has submitted the bid under a new independent entity - Telewings Communications.

Sistema has filed a curative petition in the Supreme Court and is hoping that its licences will not be cancelled. The Russian company said it has “consistently maintained that it has been unfairly penalised... and has filed a curative petition seeking to restore (our) licences.”

Sources in the Department of Telecom said Vodafone has submitted applications for 17 circles in 1,800 MHz band, Bharti Airtel for around six circles, Videocon for 15 GSM and around 10 CDMA circles and Tata Teleservices for three circles where it lost its CDMA permits. However, the number of circles for Idea Celluar and Telenor not yet known. 

However, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) which was widely anticipated to bid in the November auction of airwaves to complement its wireless broadband services with voice call facility, stayed away. Even Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance Communications (RCom) has stayed away.

The DoT is conducting auction of airwaves frequencies in 1,800 Mhz, being used for GSM services at present and 800 Mhz band, being used for CDMA services, after the Supreme Court cancelled 122 telecom licences belonging to eight different companies in 2G scam.

The cancelled licences included 22 permits of Uninor (joint venture between Unitech Wireless and Norwegian firm Telenor), Loop's 21, Sistema-Shyam's (SSTL) 21, Etisalat-DB's 15, S Tel's 6, Videocon's 21, Idea's 9 and three licences of TTSL. The Supreme Court has directed the DoT to complete the auction by January 13, 2013.

The government has fixed 14,000 crore as the minimum or base price for the auction that was to begin on November 12. In 2008, when A Raja was the Telecom Minister, spectrum was allotted at 1,658 crore for pan-India licences.

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