Our coverage of the 2G Auctions is brought to you by OnMobile Global, India’s leading Mobile Value Added Services [VAS] company
The forthcoming 2G spectrum auction seems to have at least got a better response than the previous one: Telecom Secretary M.F. Farooqui has told IANS that eight telcos have submitted their respective bids for the 2G spectrum auctions happening next month.
Among the applicants include India’s largest telco Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, RIL’s Reliance Jio, Telenor’s Telewings, Aircel, Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices. Farooqui said most of the telcos have applied for both the 900MHz and 1800MHz band while only one or two may have applied in the 1800MHz band alone.
Note that yesterday was the last day for telcos to submit their applications to participate in both 1800 MHz and 900 MHz auctions. They now have until January 27 to withdraw these bids and the auction is expected to start on February 3, 2014. Full timetable here.
Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has put up a total 46 MHz in the 900MHz band and around 403.2 MHz of spectrum in the 1800MHz band for the auction sale. It hopes to raise Rs 48,000 crore from these auctions if it is all sold at the approved reserve price, which has been set at Rs 1,765 crore per MHz for 1800MHz spectrum. For 900MHz spectrum, the base price is set at Rs 360 crore per MHz for Delhi, Rs 328 crore for Mumbai and Rs 125 crore for Kolkata.
This auction is critical for both Airtel and Vodafone to retain their licenses in the 900 MHz band which is up for renewal. Airtel currently has spectrum in the 900MHz band in Kolkata & Delhi while Vodafone has spectrum in the 900MHz band in Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai.
Videocon, Loop & SSTL Not Participating In Auctions
Among the telcos who are not participating in the 2G auction are Videocon, Loop Mobile and Sistema Shyam Teleservices (MTS India) which is focusing purely on 800MHz CDMA spectrum.
Videocon Telecom CEO Arvind Bali told Reuters they were looking to bid for 900MHz spectrum in Delhi and also secure additional spectrum in Punjab and Madhya Pradesh circles on the 1800 MHz band. However, they have now decided to invest in its existing operations. He believes that 4G LTE ecosystem is not yet evolved in the 900MHz space yet, making it not suitable for rolling out 4G services. The company has plans to roll out LTE services on the 2G spectrum secured in the November 2013 auctions. (Also read: Videocon Wants Uniform Spectrum Charges & Only To Cover Admin Expenses)
Loop Mobile MD & CEO Sandip Basu has said it has filed an application with telecom tribunal TDSAT seeking an extension of its license which is expiring later this year. The company along with Bharti Airtel had earlier moved to the Delhi High Court seeking a 10 years extension of its license, since Loop believes that it is entitled for a 10 year extension in Mumbai circle as per the license agreement.
Sistema Seeks TRAI’s Nod To Participate in 800MHZ Auction
Meanwhile, The Economic Times reports that Sistema has sought Telecom Regulatory Authority Of India (TRAI)’s permission to participate in the forthcoming 800MHz spectrum auctions.
This follows TRAI’s recommendation of excluding Sistema from the CDMA auction in eight circles since it believes that Sistema could acquire spectrum at lower prices and combine its existing and new bandwidth to offer 4G services. Sistema however says this is not possible since the new bandwidth and existing bandwidth are not sequential.
The telco has also sought a cut in the spectrum reserve price for 800 MHz band, saying this will increase participation in the auctions and bring it on par with GSM operators. Note that Sistema is probably the only telco right now which is focusing on CDMA services in the country with Tata Tele reportedly surrendering 20MHz of its CDMA spectrum last month and RCOM largely shifting its focus to GSM services. It was the only participant in India’s March 2013 CDMA spectrum auctions, while there were no participants in the November 2012 CDMA spectrum auctions.
Our 2G Auctions 2014 coverage
DoT Modifies 2014 2G Auction Guidelines: Rollout Obligations, Performance Guarantees
India’s 2014 2G Auction Postponed: To Begin On 3rd February 2014
The Lowdown: DoT’s Guidelines For 2G Spectrum Auction In January 2014