You are already aware of the ongoing tug of war between 2G incumbent operators and TRAI over the latter’s recommendation on 2G Spectrum. Analysts met Sr. DoT officials and here are the key takeaways from the meeting.

No Clarity on 2G Spectrum TRAI Recommendations’ Decision by DoT or Cabinet Ministry – DOT is still contemplating if it wants to transfer the decision marking on spectrum issues to eGoM, but it may consider this to transfer to eGoM. DOT did not provide a timeline by which the government will make a decision on TRAI recos, but it stated that such policy matters take time and that it was not sure if the decision will be made within a month.

Procurement of equipment who sign the proposed agreement will be allowed – DOT mentioned that there was no blanket ban on Chinese vendors, but any orders will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The government intends to send a technical team/third-party certification agencies to visit the factories of the equipment vendors to ensure compliance with Indian security requirements. The DoT is coming out with an agreement that will have the guidelines for compliance with Indian security rules and has to be signed by the equipment suppliers and the operators. The parties (vendors/operators) who fulfill these agreements will be allowed to import equipment. No timeline was provided as to when this issue will be resolved.

Bharti and Vodafone will find it easier to upgrade their existing 2G network to 3G, as their main vendors (western vendors) will find it relatively easier to import equipment. This would likely give them time to market advantage over other operators such as RCOM and Tata DoCoMo in their 3G launch.

MNP launched delayed from June 30 to October 31 – We cannot rule out further delays in MNP implementation if operators such as BSNL are not able to upgrade their network to meet the MNP rquirements/ specifications. While we expect MNP to lead to near-term increase in marketing expenses for operators, we believe in the long-run incumbents such as Bharti, Vodafone, Idea who have better brand/network will be able to maintain their market-shares.