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Bharti Airtel seeks access to fresh 2G spectrum auctions

"We are believers of the market mechanism where everybody must have a fair and equitable opportunity of participating in whatever is available in the market," CEO Sanjay Kapoor said.

BT Online Bureau | February 8, 2012 | Updated 18:50 IST

Bharti Airtel, India's largest telecom service provider, on Wednesday pitched for all telecom players getting access to the fresh 2G spectrum auctions post the Supreme Court cancellation of 122 licences in light of the 2G spectrum scam.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is expected to hold auctions for the cancelled licences again.

"We are believers of the market mechanism where everybody must have a fair and equitable opportunity of participating in whatever is available in the market," Sanjay Kapoor, CEO India and South Asia, told reporters.

Uninor, a joint venture between Norway-based Telenor and India's Unitech, has proposed that only those players who got licences in 2008 be invited for auction. Uninor stands to lose all its 22 licences following Supreme Court's order to cancel 122 licences issued in 2008,

Speaking on tariff hike following a possible consolidation in the industry with the apex court's order, Kapoor said: "There is enough competition in the market and, therefore, the market will decide what tariffs would finally prevail and what the customers would afford and what the competition would drive."

"We are all aware that in a market like India a bulk of operators today operate at price points which do not cover their marginal profits. This cannot be sustained for long, therefore sustainability will also determine where the price points will come," he added.

"They are market driven and not driven by single operator."

The operator also criticised Trai's move to regulate telecom tariffs saying that such a step is "confusing" and uncalled for.

"On one hand we have auctions in the market where all the operators have bid hundred thousand crore rupees and on the other side we want to fix prices. They are absolutely at conflict with each other," Kapoor said.

Airtel was the first operator to hike call tariffs in the country last year, at a time when there was cut-throat competition among telecom operators offering dirt cheap tariffs. A stage had come where telecom tariffs had reached the lowest in the world leading to margins of all the players being hammered.

- With IANS inputs

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