The spectrum scandal has made old players in the telecom industry gain at the cost of new ones.
Incumbent giants such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Reliance Communications (RCOM), and Tata Teleservices are set to gain as new players Uninor and Sistema (which uses the MTS brandname) stung by the fallout of the scam, are cutting back or exiting markets. More than 3.8 million subscribers have been churned back to old players in the past two months already.
With Sistema Shyam Tele-services Ltd (SSTL) not participating in the latest spectrum bidding for three circles including Mumbai, 1.5 million more subscribers will be shifted to incumbent players.
On February 21, the company closed down its operations in 10 circles and announced it would migrate its subscribers numbering about 2 million to other operators under mobile number portability (MNP) plans. "Shifting of customers of these 10 circles to other operators will be complete by March 23, 2013," said a spokesperson of SSTL. "As regards porting of customers in the 3 circles, that has also commenced."
Under MNP, a subscriber can change his operator, while retaining his telephone number.
SSTL operates CDMA technology services. CDMA handsets can not be used for GSM services. However, its subscribers are shifting to both CDMA and GSM operators in nearly equal numbers, said a company official.
Last month, Uninor, another new operator had to shut its operations in Mumbai following an order by the Supreme Court whicht said all operators that did not win spectrum in the previous auctions had to close down services immediately. This effected more than 1.8 million subscribers of Uninor. These subscribers were also shifted to the incumbent operators.