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A tale of many auctions: mobile communications in India struggle to overcome a dysfunctional structure

Peter Curwen (Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK)
Jason Whalley (Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK)

Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance

ISSN: 2398-5038

Article publication date: 8 May 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of the paper is to assess whether the dysfunctional structure of the Indian mobile communications sector has been improved by a large number of spectrum auctions during the period 2010-2016.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper provides a case study of developments in the Indian mobile communications sector primarily during the period 2010-2016. This period has witnessed a large number of spectrum auctions, the results of which are presented and analysed. The particular focus is upon the consequences of these auctions for the structure of the sector which began the period in what can best be described as a dysfunctional state.

Findings

The paper concludes that only limited progress has so far been made in improving the structure of the sector. This is due to factors such as political interference, delays in completing merger & acquisition (M&A) activity, badly organised auctions, a scarcity of the right amount of spectrum in the right places and a regional structure that inhibits operators from providing a nationwide presence.

Practical implications

The paper concludes that considerable progress still needs to be made: For example, political interference needs to be harmonised, auction prices need to become market-clearing and M&A activity needs to come to fruition.

Originality/value

The existing analysis of the sector has paid only limited attention to the significance of auctions for the structure of the sector, and this paper provides an analysis of all auctions and M&A activity virtually to the end of 2016, making it unusually up-to-date.

Keywords

Citation

Curwen, P. and Whalley, J. (2017), "A tale of many auctions: mobile communications in India struggle to overcome a dysfunctional structure", Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 225-250. https://doi.org/10.1108/DPRG-11-2016-0048

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited