Stampede of companies hoping to get new telco operating license (& hence the spectrum) in India

More than 500 companies have applied for new telco operating licenses in India. AT&T was one those who applied just before the closing bell for applications.
If AT&T should get the license, it would set the stage for a battle royale between it and Vodafone for a share of the world's fastest-growing cellular market.
AT&T's wireless unit, the former Cingular, is of course already in a death match in the United States with Vodafone because Vodafone owns 40 percent of Verizon Wireless. An extension of that battle to India, where cellular-phone use is growing at an estimated eight million subscribers per month, thus would have the industry worldwide on the edge of its seats.
Just to make things even more interesting, Sistema, the owner of Russia's largest wireless carrier, Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), also has applied for an Indian cellular license. There's also some suspicion that, buried in the pile of 500 applications, are papers from proxies for other Tier One cellular players on the world stage.
While DoT is scratching its head over how to decide which of the applicants should get licenses - it hadn't expected to need a process to sort through hundreds of applications. Planning is said to center around a two-stage procedure, most likely the initially weeding out those whose goal is to get a license simply to resell it, instantly becoming quite rich in the process.
What the flood of applicants wants is what's called a Universal Access Services Licence (UASL). Such a license, though, doesn't come with any spectrum; that will be a separate - and potentially expensive - issue. Indeed, there are said to be more than 20 Indian companies that last year were allowed to buy licenses, but they aren't in the cellular business yet because they haven't gotten any spectrum.
At this point, the Indian authorities haven't said exactly what spectrum they eventually will put on offer, although the widespread expectation is they will be looking at channels for 3G and possibly 4G service offerings.
In an almost identical arrangement, Vodafone is paired with India's Essar Group - having bought the Hutchison Telecommunications International Limited (HTIL) stake in what had been Hutchison-Essar earlier this year (TelecomWeb news break, Feb. 12). Vodafone-Essar, though, already is a licensed cellular carrier in India - with Number Three market share as is Idea, sitting in the sixth spot. In all, there are 13 wireless competitors in the market (10 of them offering GSM, three CDMA and one both), although most do not have licenses and spectrum that cover the entire country.
The list of applicants is known to include at least eight major real-estate firms in India.

1 comment:

Rachna said...

Nice Blog, Sanju!

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