India's DoT reaches 3G spectrum compromise

Dylan Bushell-Embling
09 Dec 2009

India's Department of Telecom has finally sorted out the details of its compromise with defense over spectrum ownership rights – but probably not in time to prevent further delays to the nation's 3G auction.

The departments have agreed that the defense forces will have the exclusive rights to 10% of all commercial airwaves, the Economic Times reported.

Amongst non-communication bands, defense will have 70% of the airwaves within 50 km of international boundaries, and 30% in the remainder.

In return, defense has agreed to relinquish 10 MHz of the spectrum required for the 3G auctions now, and a further 15 MHz over three years. The DoT will also give up 20 MHz worth of 2G spectrum, to be awarded to the nation's frequency-starved operators.

But in an internal note acquired by ET, the DoT revealed that the compromise has still left spectrum in short supply for the upcoming auction.

Due to the shortage, as few as three 3G winners will be chosen following the auction, and only one may receive spectrum immediately. The rest may have to wait until July or September for frequencies to become available.

As a result, winning bidders may only have to pay 25% of the bid amount initially, and the remainder when they receive their airwaves.

The delays have led to renewed speculation that the auction may be delayed yet again, from January 14 until February or even March. The DoT failed to make its December 8 deadline for the invitation of applications to participate in the auction, lending credence to the rumors.

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