Vodafone wrong-footed in India over 2G licence extension

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has dealt a major blow to one of the country’s major operators, denying Vodafone permission to renew its 2G licences covering three major telecom circles.

The 20-year licences, covering 900MHz and 1800MHz frequencies across Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, will expire in November 2014. The DoT has stated that Vodafone is obliged to reacquire the spectrum at auction if it wishes to continue its 2G offering in these areas. Vodafone’s fellow operator Bharti Airtel is in the same situation – and accordingly has been issued with the same ultimatum.

Vodafone declined to enter the ongoing 2G auctions due to its belief that it would be able to extend its licences. In an official release, the operator stated: “Vodafone is deeply disappointed with the summary rejection of its request for extension of licenses in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata service areas.”

The operator has attempted to block the DoT’s spectrum auctions with a petition. While Vodafone did not acquire any 2G licences in the 2008 auctions - and therefore did not have any licences annulled last year – it did win 2G spectrum in 14 circles during last November’s re-auction.

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