With 3G delayed, TRAI launches LTE consultation

Caroline Gabriel/Rethink Research
11 Feb 2010

It's more than five years since Indian telecoms regulator TRAI drew up consultation documents for its 3G spectrum auction, and the actual sale has still not taken place, and was recently delayed yet again, until April. So there was widespread skepticism when the agency announced yesterday that it was starting consultation on its next round of spectrum sales, for LTE.

The Indian government's vision of how mobile broadband will transform its economic and social status has long outrun the effectiveness of the various departments involved. Government spokespeople said last week that they aimed to follow 3G and Wimax sales rapidly with an auction in 700 MHz, geared to LTE. But this came as those same 3G and Wimax transactions were being delayed once more by ongoing rows between the Departments of Telecom and Defense, and TRAI, over dates for the military to vacate spectrum, and over the number and base cost of licenses.

Undeterred, TRAI chairman JS Sarma said in a statement: "We are starting the process and will come out with a consultation paper to look into various issues relating to 4G telecom services. 3G has been delayed badly .. I don't want 4G or LTE to meet the same fate. Other countries are catching up with 4G and that is why we are taking advance action," he told local newspapers.

If potential bidders really thought 700-MHz digital dividend bands, or other possible 4G spectrum options, would come up in the next year or so, it might impact the perceived value of the airwaves on offer now, but few expect the new wave of auctions to take place until 2013 at the earliest.

Source: Rethink Wireless

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