Tata and Videcon withdraw India spectrum bids

Tata Teleservices and Videocon Group have withdrawn their bids for spectrum due to be auctioned by India’s government in a process beginning on November 12, reports the country’s Economic Times newspaper.

Because the two organizations had been the only ones to bid for the airwaves used on CDMA-based phones, the government is apparently stuck with a slice of spectrum that attracts no interest.

Tata Teleservices (Mumbai, India), India’s sixth-biggest mobile-phone operator, was originally looking to replace operating permits it is set to lose in three zones.

Tata Teleservices and Videocon Group have withdrawn their bids for spectrum due to be auctioned by India’s government in a process beginning on November 12, reports the country’s Economic Times newspaper.

Because the two organizations had been the only ones to bid for the airwaves used on CDMA-based phones, the government is apparently stuck with a slice of spectrum that attracts no interest.

Tata Teleservices (Mumbai, India), India’s sixth-biggest mobile-phone operator, was originally looking to replace operating permits it is set to lose in three zones.

Citing two sources familiar with the matter, the Economic Times reports that it withdrew its bid not long after Videocon (Gurgaon, India) had done the same.

Most of the spectrum up for auction is intended for GSM-based services, but a sale of CDMA frequencies was supposed to happen at the end of the process.

The technology has been in decline for several years, however, with operators enticed by GSM’s greater economies of scale.

More recently, some of the world’s biggest operators, including US-based Verizon Wireless (New York, USA), have announced plans to shut down CDMA networks and rely entirely on LTE, a so-called ‘4G’ standard, piling further pressure on to CDMA vendors.

India’s forthcoming auction of 2G spectrum follows the cancellation earlier this year of telecoms licences awarded in 2008, after the country’s Supreme Court found the whole process had been riddled with corruption.

A number of high-profile companies lost their licences to operate services in India as a result of the decision. Many are hoping to win back their concessions this month.

Norway’s Telenor (Oslo, Norway), one of the affected companies, last week announced it had found a new Indian partner to replace Unitech (Gurgaon, India) in the shape of Lakshdeep Investments & Finance.

Unitech was Telenor’s partner in Uninor, its Indian mobile-phone unit, but the companies fell out in the wake of the spectrum scandal.

Foreign-ownership rules mean that Telenor cannot operate independently in India’s telecoms market.