Telenor confirms participation in India 2G auction

Norway’s Telenor will participate in India’s auction of 2G spectrum next month, joining Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Tata Teleservices in the process.

Telenor (Fornebu, Norway) has been operating in India through its Uninor joint venture with Unitech, an Indian real-estate business, but its spectrum licenses were cancelled earlier this year after an Indian court found there had been irregularities during their award in 2008.

Norway’s Telenor will participate in India’s auction of 2G spectrum next month, joining Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Tata Teleservices in the process.

Telenor (Fornebu, Norway) has been operating in India through its Uninor joint venture with Unitech, an Indian real-estate business, but its spectrum licenses were cancelled earlier this year after an Indian court found there had been irregularities during their award in 2008.

The company was just one of many affected by the decision, with India’s authorities set to auction off the cancelled licenses from November 12.

Telenor, however, is keen to remain in the country, and submitted an application to participate in the auction ahead of an October 19 deadline, along with most of the country’s other big operators.

Although Bharti Airtel (New Delhi, India) and Vodafone (Newbury, UK) were not affected by the cancellation of licenses they are keen to acquire additional frequencies to support the usage of voice services in one of the world’s biggest telecoms markets.

Both Sistema (Moscow, Russia) and Reliance (Mumbai, India), which lost licenses as a result of the court decision, have not applied to participate in the auction.

Sistema maintains that it has been unfairly treated and says the recommended spectrum prices would make the business case unviable.

Authorities are hoping to raise 400 billion rupees ($7.5 billion) from the auction and have set the base price at 140 billion rupees for 5MHz of 1800MHz spectrum across all 22 telecoms ‘circles’ in the country.

Reliance Industries (Mumbai, India) is another notable absentee, according to Reuters, having been expected to take part in the auction.

Telenor is searching for another Indian partner, having fallen out with Unitech in the aftermath of the court decision.