The Telegraph
Friday , February 17 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Operators differ on eligibility

New Delhi, Feb. 16: Vodafone today said all telecom players old and new should be allowed to take part in 2G spectrum auctions.

However, rival Uninor which is set to lose 22 licences following a Supreme Court verdict earlier this month has cited the apex court’s judgment to argue that only new players should be allowed to bid for the spectrum.

In a submission to Trai, Vodafone said, “All operators and potential new entrants should be allowed to participate in the auction. This will ensure the most efficient allocation of the spectrum, and is necessary to discover a fair market price.”

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had invited views from stakeholders to frame rules for the auction of spectrum. The apex court had earlier this month cancelled 122 licences given in 2008.

Uninor, however, argued, that the Supreme Court’s judgment mandated auction of “licences and spectrum” and not of only spectrum.

“In view of the above, the SC judgment supports the proposition that existing players who already hold licence granted to them between 2001 and September 24, 2007 (“incumbents”) should not be entitled to participate in the auction of licences,” Uninor’s submission said.

Sistema-Shyam has a similar point of view, officials said. The company, which operates under the MTS brand, is set to lose 21 licences.

Vodafone India and other old operators such as Bharti Airtel, who have not lost out because of the Supreme Court ruling, would like auction to be open to all.

“The Supreme Court has observed that there should be a transparent and fair method for making selections so that all eligible persons get a fair opportunity of competition,” Vodafone said.

It also sought bundling of unallocated spectrum with the spectrum which is to be vacated and a combined auction to be announced. “Unused spectrum brings no benefit to society or consumers,” it said.

Vodafone went on to argue that pricing should be reviewed before the auction design was finalised.