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8 Telecom operators including Ambanis apply for spectrum auction

Airtel-LogoEight telecom operators, including Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio Infocomm, have submitted applications to participate in the upcoming spectrum auction starting March 4. Mukesh’s brother Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications has also applied.

The other operators are Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Tata Teleservices, Uninor, Idea Cellular and Aircel, according to an official source. Today, Monday (Feb 16) was the last date of submission of applications.

However, Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd (SSTL), which provides services under the brand name MTS, announced that it would not participate in the auction. It was a potential buyer of the CDMA spectrum.

“Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd has consistently maintained that the pricing of 800 MHz spectrum at Rs.3,646 crore per MHz, is way out of line and does not merit a strong business case for buying additional spectrum. The company continues to maintain that such pricing does not take into account the realities of the prevailing ecosystem within the 800 MHz band,” the company said in a statement.

The SSTL has also approached the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Board (TDSAT) seeking direction against the department of telecommunications for reassignment/rearrangement of the blocks/frequencies of liberalized spectrum allotted to SSTL during the auction held in March, 2013 in 8 circles for its CDMA services.

“SSTL has contended that the terms and conditions of the auction during March 2013 permitted rearrangement of frequencies of liberalized spectrum with the other operators without any additional charge.

“However, since SSTL was the sole bidder during the said auction and there is no other successful operator for rearrangement of frequencies, it is incumbent upon DoT to rearrange/reassign the frequency to make the spectrum allotted to SSTL contiguous,” the company added.

The other telecom operators who are not participating in the auction are Videocon Telecom and state-owned BSNL and MTNL.

The total spectrum put to auction is 103.75 MHz in 800 MHz band, 177.8 MHz in 900 MHz band and 99.2 MHz in 1,800 MHz band – a total of 380.75 MHz in 800, 900 and 1,800 MHz.

The government will also put on sale 5 MHz in the 2,100 MHz band, which is used for 3G services in 17 out of 22 telecom areas.

The reserve price approved is Rs.3,646 crore pan-India per MhZ in 800 MHz, Rs.3,980 crore for 900 MHz band pan-India; and Rs.2,191 crore pan-India in 1,800 MHz band.

The government also approved a reserve price of Rs.3,705 crore per megahertz for third generation services.

According to reports, the government expects to mop up Rs.75,000-Rs.100,000 crore from the auction.

In December 2015, seven licences each of Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications, four licences of Bharti Airtel and six licences of Vodafone will complete their 20-year term after which they have to be renewed.

In total, there are 29 licences in 18 service areas which expiring in 2015-16. The Department of Telecom (DoT) has selected Kolkata-based mjunction services for conducting the upcoming spectrum auction.(IANS)

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