Few takers for India's auction of mobile spectrum

Earlier investors such as Sistema and Etisalat stayed away from the auction

India's auction of mobile spectrum has not attracted new foreign investors, reflecting growing uncertainty about investment policies in the country and the growth potential of its mobile market.

Telenor and the Indian joint venture of NTT DoCoMo, which both lost 2G licenses as a result of a Supreme Court decision in February, are participating in the bidding for new licenses.

But the Indian joint venture of Russia's Sistema said it would stay away from the auction, and instead try to recover in court the licenses it lost. The recommended spectrum prices also make the business case unviable, Sistema Shyam TeleServices said in a statement. Etisalat, another company that lost its licenses, was also not a participant by Friday, the last day for applications.

The Supreme Court ordered 122 licenses canceled in February, and the spectrum thus freed to be auctioned again, after it ruled that the allocation of licenses in 2008 had been manipulated by business interests. The Indian joint ventures of foreign companies such as Etisalat, NTT DoCoMo, Telenor, and Sistema lost licenses as a result. Some of these foreign companies had invested in Indian mobile startups that had bagged the licenses.

The lukewarm response to the auction can be put down to investors' concerns after the country's flip-flops on investment policy in a number of areas, as well as the saturation of the Indian mobile market, said Kamlesh Bhatia, research director at Gartner.

At this point only companies that have the ability to differentiate significantly and add value in the mobile services business will invest in the country, Bhatia said. Some of the companies that lost licenses probably intend to protect their existing investments in network and other infrastructure by acquiring spectrum again, he added.

Two top Indian companies with interests in the mobile services business, Reliance Communications and Reliance Industries, also stayed away from the auction, though India's largest mobile operator Bharti Airtel is a participant, according to records of India's Department of Telecommunications.

The spectrum that is being auctioned is in the 800MHz and 1800MHz bands. Six companies are bidding in the auction which is scheduled for the middle of next month.

Companies that have stayed away may later try to get back to the market by acquisitions, Bhatia said. Reliance Industries, which stayed away from a broadband wireless auction in June last year, soon after acquired Infotel Broadband Services which won licenses for broadband wireless services in India

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags mobilebusiness issuesmobile applicationstelecommunicationinvestmentsCarriersNTT DoCoMoSistemaTelenor

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?