3G: Indian govt finally decides

Nicole McCormick
26 Feb 2010

The Indian government has finally set a timetable for its 3G auction and rollout.

The auction will begin on April 9, and operators will be allowed to offer commercial 3G services from September 1, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) revealed Thursday.

It plans to allocate three or four blocks of spectrum per circle at 2100MHz, with each bidder limited to one 2x5MHz block.

Five 3G licenses will be available in the four circles of Punjab, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and Jammu & Kashmir.

Three licenses will be auctioned in the remaining 18 circles.

The reserve price for pan-India 3G spectrum remains unchanged at 35 billion rupees ($758.3 million) for 5MHz.

The reserve for national Broadband Wireless Access (BSW) spectrum at 2.3GHz has been set at 17.5 billion rupees.

The deadline for submission of applications is March 19. A mock 3G auction is penned for April 5-6.

The BWA auction is scheduled to commence two days after the 3G auction, but the government no longer plans to auction three BWA licenses per circle at 2.3GHz.

“The government has already examined the issue and taken a decision to auction two slots of BWA spectrum at present, unless more spectrum becomes available or interference issues are resolved in the 2.5GHz band,” it said.

It said it had canned plans to auction 800MHz spectrum for CDMA 3G purposes.

The government also said it has no schedule for the next 3G auction round, saying only that should a “further round of auction for 3G or BWA spectrum take place within 12 months from the current round, the reserve price in such a round will be the same as the winning price in the current round.”

It said that “more details cannot be provided at this stage” on the auctioning of LTE spectrum.

Mandatory roaming is not part of the government’s telecoms policy, the government added.

However it said that: “Intra-circle roaming will be governed by the UAS/ CMTS licence provisions and applicable government regulations.”

A 3G aspirant must hold a Unified Access Services or Cellular Mobile Telephone Service licence, or demonstrate previous experience running 3G telecom services.

A foreign firm can take part in the auction and can hold up to 74% in a mobile company.

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