Indian operators Aircel and Tata Teleservices will only be allowed to add to their existing spectrum holdings and can’t bid for new bands because they don’t meet the financial requirements set by the Telecom Department (DoT) for next week’s auction.
The auction rules require bidding companies to have a net worth of at least INR1 billion (about $16 million) to buy frequencies in new bands or expand their coverage into new areas, the Economic Times reported.
The two operators, which each have a market share of 7-8 per cent, were the only companies submitting applications to have a negative net worth. Eight operators have stepped forward to participate in the country’s long-awaited spectrum auctions on 4 March.
DoT said Aircel has provided bank guarantees of INR5 billion while Tata Teleservices (which operates under the Tata DoComo brand) has submitted an earnest money deposit of INR15 billion, which is higher than that from Uninor and Reliance Communications.
The country’s Supreme Court this week also rejected a request by Idea Cellular to push the auction back a week to give bidders more time to clarify certain aspects of the spectrum sale.
The Supreme Court, after being asked by DoT to reject any requests to stay the auction, has directed the country’s high courts not to interfere with the spectrum auction rules, the Times said.