2G: Lone CDMA player status may help Sistema get relief
Under intense pressure from the Russian Government, India may consider working out a solution to grant some relief to Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd (SSTL).
According to official sources, SSTL’s case may be treated differently from others whose licences were ordered to be cancelled because it is the sole operator based on CDMA technology.
The basic premise for cancelling the licences is that the first-come-first-served policy was not followed properly when licences were given out in January 2008.
But in the case of SSTL, the company would have anyway got the licence being the only applicant for CDMA spectrum.
The Russian Minister of Economic Development, Ms Elvira Nabiullina, raised Sistema’s case during a meeting on Tuesday with the Indian Commerce, Industry and Textiles Minister Mr Anand Sharma here, they said.
They added that Mr Sharma told Ms Nabiullina that the Government has taken cognisance of the issue and pointed out that it has filed a review petition in the 2G case. He added that he will ascertain the latest position after talking to other Cabinet Ministers.
Inter-ministerial consultations will be on soon to find out what can be done within the parameters of Indian laws, the sources said, adding that the relief could be in the form of relaxed auction rules. One option is to restrict the auction for CDMA spectrum only among new players that would give a reasonable chance for the Russian major to buy back spectrum at lower cost.
SSTL was among those companies hit by the landmark Supreme Court order in February cancelling 122 spectrum licences granted during the then Telecom Minister, Mr A. Raja’s tenure, on finding that their allocation was carried out “illegally”.
Sistema had recently invoked the provisions of the India-Russia Agreement for Promotion and Mutual Protection of Investments in a bid to settle their dispute.
Sistema had said if the dispute is not settled amicably by August 28 , it reserves the right to start proceedings against India before an international arbitration tribunal set up in accordance with the Arbitration Rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law and/or in any other available forum.