Russia’s Sistema, one of the three global majors affected by Thursday’s Supreme Court order cancelling the 2G licences awarded in 2008, has asserted that it plans to contest the ruling by pursuing all “available legal remedies”. On the other hand, firms such as Vodafone are already gearing up for a potential exodus of consumers from the affected operators into their fold.
Within hours of a Thursday order by the apex court revoking all the 122 licences awarded in the 2008 spectrum sale, Vodafone ran newspaper advertisements inviting users of rival networks to sign up for its service without having to change their phone number. UK-based Vodafone, the world’s largest carrier by revenue and the number-two in India, is widely seen to be among the major beneficiaries of the Supreme Court ruling.
Sistema, the majority stakeholder in joint venture Sistema-Shyam, said on Friday that while it will contest the Supreme Court’s order to protect its investments, it also indicated that its services in India will remain operational. “To safeguard its interests, Sistema and Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd (SSTL) will contest this order by pursuing all available legal remedies. In the meantime, Indian operations will remain business as usual for the company,” Sistema JSFC said in a statement. Sistema Shyam has pan-India operations under brand MTS and its 21 out of 22 licences stand cancelled after the apex court verdict. “Sistema by way of its investments in SSTL has fully demonstrated its commitment to its Indian operations and is very disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision... The company looks forward to a clear, transparent, and equitable policy decision on these matters by the Indian government,” the company added.
Meanwhile, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Friday started the process of auction of 2G spectrum and issued a pre-consultation paper on the same seeking views of all stakeholders. The apex court, in its verdict, had asked Trai to adhere to the central government’s focus on allocation of spectrum only through auction.
“Keeping in view the decision taken by the central government in 2011, Trai shall make fresh recommendations for grant of licence and allocation of spectrum in 2G band in 22 service areas by auction, as was done for allocation of spectrum in 3G band,” principal advisor at Trai, Sudhir Gupta, said in a statement.
According to estimates, around 536 Mhz of 2G spectrum will be freed following the cancellation of the 122