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India announces 2G auction details, Pakistan to delay 3G auction

The TRAI has released a new consultation paper ahead of the country's 2G reauction

The Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released fresh guidelines ahead of the country’s 2G (re)auction, after the Supreme Court of India cancelled the 122 licences that were awarded in 2008.

The consultation paper follows draft guidelines that were issued last month, and aims to simplify licensing rules, encourage mergers and acquisition and provide greater transparency in the spectrum allocation process.

“The key issues raised in the consultation paper are quantum of spectrum to be auctioned, liberalisation of the spectrum, refarming of spectrum in 800/900MHz bands, structure of auction, spectrum block size, eligibility criteria for participating in the auction, reserve price, roll out obligations, spectrum usage charges and spectrum trading,” said Rajeev Agrawal, secretary at TRAI.

He added that the body is inviting comments on the issues raised in the paper from the stakeholders by March 21, 2012.

Meanwhile, across the border, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has delayed its 3G spectrum auction, which was due to be held on March 29, 2012,  due to “great interest shown by operators through their representatives in World Mobile Congress”.

The PTA said that the delaye will allow operators more time and room to plan.

“The current schedule of Mobile Cellular Auction is under review. Fresh dates will be posted in due course of time,” the body said on its website.

According to the initial plans, the 3G licenses will be valid for 8 to 15 years, with a mandatory $ 31.5m deposit for bidders. – telecoms industry news, analysis and opinion

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Telenor must continue JV to stay in India, rules court

Telenor has been told that it may only bid for spectrum in India as part of its Uninor JV

A court in India has ruled that Norwegian operator group Telenor may only bid for spectrum in the country’s upcoming 2G auction if it does so as part of its joint venture with Indian real estate firm Unitech. The auction is now set to be held in January 2013, after the Supreme Court of India granted the government another deadline extension.

The operator has sought to cut ties with its Indian partner, after losing the 2G licences it won in the country’s 2008 spectrum auction.

However, the District Court of Gurgaon, has now upheld an injunction from Unitech to prevent Telenor from “participating, negotiating, engaging in or financially being interested in the auction processes conducted by the government/government agencies for fresh allotment of licenses/spectrum, other than through respondent no.1 (Unitech Wireless)”.

Tor Odland, VP for group communications at Telenor, told that the operator is appealing the decision.

“There’s a hearing set for September and we aim to continue arguing our case,” he said.

“Our objective remains to potentially bid with a new company, and as such, we deem the partnership with Unitech to be over. We are currently scanning the market for potential partners.”

Telenor had already invited interested parties to bid for assets owned by the JV, called Uninor, of which the operator owns 67 per cent, but Odland said that it is awaiting a final decision from the courts as to whether it will be able to.

“There has been no decision on that – it’s a matter that has been challenged by Unitech.” – telecoms industry news, analysis and opinion

Ericsson facing anti-competitive lawsuit in India

Ericsson is facing an investigation from the Indian Competition Commission for breaching the Indian Competition Act

Ericsson is facing an investigation from the Indian Competition Commission for breaching the Indian Competition Act

Swedish infrastructure vendor Ericsson is facing an investigation from the Indian Competition Commission for breaching the Indian Competition Act. Local handset manufacturer Micromax has alleged that the vendor has demanded “unfair, discriminatory and exorbitant royalty” for its patents regarding GSM technology.

According to a filing by the Competition Commission of India, the royalties demanded by Ericsson for its essential GSM patents were excessive compared with royalties charged by other patentees for patents similar or comparable to the patents held by Ericsson.

For its part Ericsson claims to have made numerous demands that Micromax licence its patents on Fair, Reasonable and  Non-Discriminatory Terms (FRAND Terms). With these demands not met, Ericsson said, it launched legal action against the handset vendor in March. Micromax’ complaint to the CCI is part of its “general defense” Ericsson said.

However, according to the filing, no details of the patents infringed by the handset maker were provided by Ericsson. Moreover the filing alleges that Ericsson made its demands only after 16 months’ of requests from Micromax, giving the handset vendor only 25 days to comply.

The document stated: “The allegations made in the information and not refuted by [Ericsson] concerning royalty rates make it clear that the practices adopted by [Ericsson] were discriminatory as well as contrary to FRAND terms.”

Ericsson added that it will fully cooperate with the authority in this investigation to reach a “fair and reasonable” conclusion.

In January last year Ericsson took steps to place more emphasis on protecting its intellectual property. The vendor claims to have the industry’s strongest wireless IPR portfolio with 27,000 granted patents covering a range of technologies, such as wireless access and WLAN. It has already signed more than 90 license agreements with firms in the industry,

It reorganised its Licensing and Patent Development department with the aim of creating a larger revenue stream from its IPR. The vendor said at the time that it was aiming to increase IPR revenues above the SEK 4.6bn ($ 662m) net revenue generated in 2010.

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India issues new draft telecoms policy

India issues new draft regulations for spectrum allocation

India’s telecoms regulator, the TRAI, has issued draft guidelines for the way spectrum is to be allocated in the country, ahead of the 2G spectrum (re)auction due to be held later this year.

The new policy aims to simplify licensing rules, encourage mergers and acquisition and provide greater transparency following India’s 2G spectrum scandal which resulted in the recent cancellation of 122 licences.

Currently, licences are awarded in India for each if the country’s 22 separate circles, or service areas. The TRAI now intends to instead award licences across the entire country, meaning operators will miss out from revenue from customers roaming as they travel across Indian states.

However, licences awarded to provide services will be sold separately to spectrum, potentially opening the market up for operators to trade 2G spectrum. However, the policy does not allow  for spectrum sharing among those holding 3G spectrum and the releated existing licenses.

Companies which acquire spectrum will also be charged a uniform licence fee of eight per cent based on their adjusted gross revenue over 2012-2013.

The new guidelines will also allow increase the threshold of market share resulted from mergers from 30 per cent, paving the way increased consolidation in the telecoms market.

“Mergers up to 35 per cent market share of the resultant entity will be allowed through a simple, quick procedure,” Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal is reported as telling journalists in India.

He added that the government would also consider cases of mergers that result in obtaining market share beyond 35 per cent in certain circumstances, as long as it does not breach the 25 per cent cap on GSM spectrum and 10Mhz for CDMA spectrum holding. – telecoms industry news, analysis and opinion