It's the last day of the year and the excitement has been hitting the top button for the telecom sector. We recollect the key happenings in the sector during the year.
The year started with the auction of the 3G license and spectrum by the government. The government raked in the moolah thanks to the obnoxious price paid by the operators for the spectrum. Now the operators are all scrambling to launch their services and start getting returns on their huge investments. While Tata Tele and RCOM have already launched their 3G services, Bharti and others would be launching theirs soon.
Bharti finally nailed its African acquisition
The year saw Bharti Airtel graduating from being an Indian to a global operator. The company acquired the African operations of Zain. Thus it finally realized its dream of entering the African markets. The company had tried and failed in doing so through MTN earlier. Only time will tell whether the African operations will work for them or not.
Mobile handsets flooded the markets
2010 saw the launch of smartphones at really attractive prices. Till now, one could acquire a smartphone but the price paid was huge. With the launch of home grown companies like Micromax, smartphones for as low as Rs 10,000 have flooded the Indian markets. This would definitely help the operators in their 3G plans and it would also help the subscribers as they can now get fancy, high end phones at cheaper prices.
MNP was finally introduced: well in part at least
The much awaited MNP (mobile number portability) was finally introduced in November. The services are only available in Haryana as of now. But at least there is a positive step towards it. MNP has been postponed so many times that people had started to give up on it. Anyways, MNP will definitely help the subscribers as they can now switch operators and at the same time, retain their numbers. However, it would mean more advertising and retention efforts for operators who are already suffering the effects of intense competition.
The infamous 2G scam
And finally the biggest highlight of 2010 that completely overshadowed everything in the telecom space. The 2G scam. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) released their report citing the various ways in which the allocation of 2G spectrum in 2008 was detrimental to the government. As per the report, the erstwhile telecom minister, Mr. A Raja, had gone against the recommendations of the regulator and had allotted spectrum to companies. This had cost the government an opportunity loss of a whopping Rs 1.8 trillion. The bigger implication in the case is that most of the companies who had received the 2G spectrum at that time did not qualify for receiving the same. Most of the companies have been accused of using dubious methods for gaining spectrum.
The year 2010 will go down as one of the most interesting years for the telecom sector. The aftermath would certainly be visible for many years to come.