Feeds

Indian 2G auction turmoil as telcos revolt

Foreign investors blame government

Security for virtualized datacentres

Allegations of discrimination against foreign mobile operators, unfairly high start prices for spectrum bidders and yet more government delays have thrown India’s 2G auctions into chaos once again over the past few days.

The original 122 licenses, doled out in 2008, were cancelled in February after the Supreme Court ruled widespread corruption during the original bidding process, and a new auction deadline was set for 31 August.

However, the government has now agreed to ask the Court for another three months to prepare the auction, sparking concerns from telecoms operators, according to The Hindu.

“Such delays are a matter of concern to us as they prolong the uncertainties we face,” said Telenor Group in a canned statement. “We urge the government to conclude the auction process at the earliest.”

The Norwegian-owned company’s uncertainties have been escalated by its decision to exit the joint venture it shares with local property developer Unitech, after the partnership soured in recent months.

Several other foreign investors in Indian mobile network businesses have complained to the government about the way they have been treated, arguing that the revocation of their licenses in February amounted to a breach of their bilateral investment protection agreements (BIPAs).

The Department of Telecommunications has now been forced to deny such allegations, in the following communication seen by Economic Times:

The government of India is of the view that this judgement applies on a fair and equitable basis on all licences. It is added that there is no discriminatory policy or practice being applied against the licence where you (the investor) has equity investment. All the issues related to licensing are being dealt with as per the law of the land on a fair and equitable basis.

It’s unlikely that any foreign investors would pull out of a country set to leapfrog the UK by 2016 to become the third biggest smartphone market worldwide, but many are unhappy at the interminable delays, and the inflated prices they’ll be forced to pay for the licenses.

The reserve auction price has been set at Rs 140bn (£1.6bn) for 5MHz of nationwide GSM spectrum in the 1800MHz band. Although this is some way lower than the first estimate, it’s still seven times that of the 2008 auctions and will costs even more for CDMA operators.

Vsevolod Rozanov, CEO of Russian firm Sistema issued a strongly worded statement criticising the decision:

Given the realistic sectoral environment and market dynamics, I believe that the reserve price for spectrum as approved by the cabinet is excessively high. There is no rationale to support why the 800 Mhz CDMA spectrum should be priced 1.3 times more than the GSM 1800 Mhz spectrum.

All of which makes the UK’s painfully drawn-out attempts to hold a 4G auction appear positively incident-free by comparison. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's iPhone 6 first-day sales are MEANINGLESS, mutters analyst
Big weekend queues only represent fruity firm's supply
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Bill Gates, drugs and the internet: Top 10 Larry Ellison quotes
'I certainly never expected to become rich ... this is surreal'
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.