(DNA : Daily News & Analysis (India) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) "In the online auction of 2G telecom spectrum that closed on Thursday, only Telenor's Telewing Communications (formerly known as Uninor) and Videocon Telecommunications bid for Gujarat circle. The two companies will spend Rs899.36 crore each (Rs1,798.72 crore taken together) for 2G spectrum in the state.
The two firms are among the five telecom companies whose 2G licences for Gujarat were cancelled by the Supreme Court in February 2012. The other three companies who lost their licences nine months back are Sistema, Etisalat and Loop.
Etisalat and Loop discontinued their services after their licences were cancelled and decided not to participate in the fresh 2G spectrum auction. Sistema, which markets its telecom services in the country under the brand name of MTS, had continued its services in Gujarat but did not participate in the fresh auction.
Sources in the telecom industry said that Sistema had deliberately stayed away from the auction as the price of the spectrum was very high. The company is waiting for the central government's move on the pricing issue, the sources said.
The licenses which were cancelled in February 2012 are valid till mid-January 2013. Till the end of September 2012, Sistema had 2.38 lakh connections in Gujarat. As for Etisalat and Loop, they have no customers as they have discontinued their services.
Telewing Communications, which has 40.54 lakh connections, has heaved a sigh of relief. Its customers, however, may have to pay more for roaming as the company has scaled down its operations from 21 to six circles.
Similarly, Videocon Telecommunication had operations in 17 circles but it won the auctions for only six circles, including Gujarat. Till end of September 2012, it had 9.50 lakh connections.
In the last one year, Videocon has lost more than 1 lakh connections in the state though it has the maximum number of subscribers in Gujarat compared to the other 16 circles in the country.
"It is a big relief. We were confident of winning the bid but now we will aggressively get in to the market once again," said an official of one of the companies which won the spectrum for Gujarat.
The other telecom operators -Vodafone, Airtel, Reliance, Tata, BSNL, Idea and Aircel will continue their operations as before as their licenses were not cancelled. Till the end of September 2012, Gujarat had 5.29 crore cellphone connections. "
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