The Telegraph
Saturday , February 16 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Sistema operations to continue’

New Delhi, Feb. 15: Russian telecom giant Sistema plans to participate in the March spectrum auctions and has sought an extension for its operations from the Supreme Court till then.

Sistema operates in India in an alliance with Shyam Telecom. The joint venture — Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd (SSTL) — had lost its licences following the Supreme Court order in February 2012. It also did not participate in the November auctions.

The apex court today ruled that operators that did not bid for spectrum or were unsuccessful in winning radiowaves (spectrum) in the November auctions would have to cease operations immediately.

Sistema Shyam said it was not affected by the order.

The CDMA mobile service provider, which operates under the MTS brand in India, had filed a separate petition on January 10 in the apex court seeking extension of its licence and stating its intent to participate in the upcoming spectrum sale in March.

A Sistema Shyam spokesperson today confirmed that “a separate order would be issued by the Supreme Court with respect to SSTL” on the January 10 petition and the company would continue operations till then.

The mobile player lost its licences after the February 2012 Supreme Court order but was providing services since the court had allowed the extension of operations.

Yesterday, the apex court dismissed its curative petition challenging the February 2012 ruling. This is separate from its January 10 challenge with the apex court, whose hearings would imply that yesterday's order had to be held in abeyance vis-a-vis Sistema Shyam.

The Supreme Court also dismissed the curative petitions of Videocon Telecommunications, Idea Cellular and Tata Teleservices, which were filed for the same reason.

Sources said Sistema Shyam might bid for only a select number of circles instead of all the circles, which will bring down the amount of money it will have to fork out for spectrum.

Based on the base price being charged by the government for CDMA 800 MHz spectrum, Sistema Shyam will have to pay over Rs 9,100 crore if it wants to retain all the circles it now has and get 5 MHz of spectrum.

Analysts said the sale of spectrum in the 800 megahertz band might not attract new bidders other than Sistema Shyam.