The Supreme Court of India (SCI) has allowed the government to go ahead with the 2G spectrum auction scheduled for March 4.The outcome will not be finalised without its permission. While staying the February 12, 2015 interim order of Tripura High Court, the SCI bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said no bidder, if successful, shall claim any equity in the bidding process. The Tripura High Court had on February 12 modified this condition, permitting Reliance Telecom and Bharti Hexacom to make two bids — one online and other offline — for 4.4 MHz, and other for 5 MHz of 2G spectrum in 900 MHz band for the North-Eastern states. Three other high courts — Allahabad, Delhi and Karnataka, also entertained similar challenges, compelling the government to move the SCI. The bench agreed to transfer all the cases to itself and started hearing the arguments.
The order would be applicable to the auction process for all the 17 circles for which Notice Inviting Applications was issued on January 9. The auction will take place between 9 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. Monday to Saturday, including public holiday Holi (March 6). The eight telecom operators, including Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL), have submitted applications to participate in the upcoming spectrum auction.
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. The other telecom operators who are not participating in the auction are Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd, which provides services under the brand name MTS, 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 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 by the end of this year.They have to be renewed in their licences otherwise it can impact on their subscribers.
There are 29 licences in 18 service areas which are expiring in 2015-16.