Incumbents and new telcos differ on 2G auction
New Delhi: Incumbent operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular has said fresh 2G auction should not be limited to new companies alone, a demand opposed by new operators.
In its comments to regulator Trai's pre-consultation paper on 2G allocation, 'Allocation of Spectrum in 2G band in 22 Service Areas by Auction' Vodafone India said, "It would not be logical to limit the auction only to the spectrum which was allocated in 2008, and only amongst the parties which acquired the spectrum in 2008.
"In that case, virtually by definition, the supply of spectrum would be equal to or less than the demand for the spectrum."
Such artificial restriction would lead to an outcome no different from an administered price regime, it added.
India's largest private operator Bharti Airtel said, "Those existing licensees, who have already defaulted on their rollout obligations, should not be permitted to participate in the auction."
New operator Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL), however, suggested two-step auction: start-up spectrum auction, followed by another round for add-on spectrum and said the existing mobile telephony licence holders with allocated spectrum should not be eligible for participation in round one.
CDMA operators' lobby Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) agreed saying, "Incumbent operators having a maximum prescribed limit spectrum of 8 MHz/10 MHz for GSM in circles and metros, respectively, and 5 MHz/6.25 MHz for CDMA in circle and metros, respectively, should be barred from participating in the auction in order to achieve the level-playing field and to prevent monopolisation of scarce resource."
Uninor suggested that both private respondents as well as new players should be allowed to bid.
However, a 'right of first refusal' for allotment of spectrum at the price discovered through competitive auction process should be provided to an operator in a service area where the player has already rolled out its services.