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Telcom Operators Boycott India’s March 2013 Spectrum Auctions; What Next

Sistema Shyam, subsidiary of Russian conglomerate Sistema, is the only applicant for India's spectrum auctions, scheduled for March 2013, applying for spectrum in the 800 MHz band. There are no applications for spectrum in the 1800 and 900 MHz band, according to a notice released by India's Department of Telecom. Sistema has 10 MHz spectrum in the 800 MHz band in Rajasthan, and has applied for 5MHz in 22 circles, where its licenses were quashed following the landmark Supreme Court judgment last year, which led to cancellation of licenses controversially allocated under Telecom Minister A. Raja's regime in September 2008. Sistema, which operates under the MTS brand in India, has wound down its operations in 10 of the 22 telecom circles in the country, including Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, North East, Orissa and Punjab. No Takers For 900MHz and 1800 MHz Compare the lack of participation in these auctions with the mad scramble that took place during the 3G auctions: the message from telecom operators is clear - they're not willing to pay inordinately high prices like they did for 3G, and according to this Bloomberg report, they don't want a reserve price for spectrum. Even in the auctions that took place in November - and ended in just two days - most telecom operators did not apply for spectrum, and spectrum in the premium, and previously sought-after Delhi and Mumbai circles went unclaimed. Also note that there are no applicants for 1800MHz and 900MHz, despite a…

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Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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