Mobile World Live’s Asia editor Joseph Waring provides a regular update on developments in the second-largest mobile market in the world:

Auctions enter 4th week, attract $17B in bids
India’s spectrum auctions, after three weeks and 110 bidding rounds, have brought in bids worth INR1.09 trillion ($17.38 billion) from eight operators.

Almost 90 per cent of the total spectrum being auctioned off has been provisionally sold.

The 900MHz band, in which the country’s three largest players’ licences soon expire, has attracted the most attention, with bids in some “circles” or regions up to 250 per cent over the reserve price. Overall bids in the 900MHz band are almost double the reserve price, while the 800MHz band has seen a premium of 78 per cent over the base price, the Economic Times said.

But with prices starting to stabilise, analysts expect the auction to come to a close soon.

A total of 380.75MHz of spectrum is being sold in the 900MHz, 800MHz and 1.8GHz bands, while 5MHz is being offered in the 2.1GHz band.

Delhi asks IT ministry to block taxi-hailing apps
India’s Information Technology Ministry has been asked to block the mobile apps of taxi-hailing companies Uber and Ola in New Delhi.

Delhi transport officials told US-based Uber and its Indian rival Ola to stop operations in the city if they want their applications for radio taxi licences to be processed, Reuters said.

Taxi-booking apps were banned in New Delhi following rape allegations against one of its drivers.

Uber last month added two features to its app in India – the ability to instantly share journey details and a panic ‘SOS’ button – designed to address concerns over passenger safety.

Central bank rejects Tata’s offer for DoCoMo’s stake in TTSL
The Reserve Bank of India has turned down Tata Sons’ proposal to pay a higher price than the “fair value” to buy out its Japanese partner’s 26.5 per cent stake in their joint venture (Tata DoCoMo) after the finance ministry told the central bank to follow its guidelines.

In January the bank indicated it would suspend a rule that prevented the Tata Group from paying NTT DoCoMo a previously agreed price of INR58.045 ($0.925) a share for its stake in Tata Teleservices (TTSL), which was much higher than an independently determined “fair value” of INR23.34, the Economic Times reported.

The issue now will need to be resolved through international arbitration.

SSTL to re-apply to raise foreign stake
Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL), whose request to boost its foreign ownership beyond 74 per cent was rejected in September, plans to reapply in April after clearing up points raised by the government.

SSTL, which has opted not to participate in this month’s spectrum auction because of the high base prices, is seeking clarification from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board. The Department of Telecom had said that the plan needs to be approved by the Reserve Bank of India since it had been structured like an overseas debt deal and not foreign direct investment, the Economic Times said.

The company operates under the MTS brand and is nearly 74 per cent owned by Russia’s Sistema JSFC and the Russian government. It said it will explain all aspects of the plan, including the fund structuring.