Six cellcos set to bid for pan-Indian 3G

Nicole McCormick
31 Mar 2010

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has given a green light to all nine applicants for next week’s 3G auction.

India’s largest private cellcos - Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices and Aircel — plan to bid for pan-Indian spectrum.

According to the DoT, the six have paid a deposit of 5.05 billion rupee ($112.64 million) so as to bid in all 22 telecom regions or “circles.”

Bharti Airtel intends to start 3G service by year-end.

"Our core network is 3G ready, billing, application and content ready,” Bharti’s Chief Executive Office for India and South Asia Sanjay Kapoor told the Business Standard.

Newcomers Videocon Telecommunications, S Tel and Etisalat DB Telecom are seeking 3G spectrum in select areas. Etisalat DB Telecom paid the highest 3G auction deposit of 4.2 billion rupee.

Videocon, whichlaunchedits GSM1800 service earlier this month, will bid for spectrum in all circles except Mumbai and Delhi, according to Business Times.

The company is discussing partnering with European and US companies on 3G.

The only two operators not to apply for 3G spectrum were Telenor-backed GSM operator UniNor and CDMA carrier Sistema-Shyam.

"We cannot participate in these auctions when we haven't even received the 2G spectrum that we have already paid for," Telenor said earlier this month.

Meanwhile, all nine bidders eyeing 2.5Ghz frequencies for mobile broadband services received the DoT’s nod to bid for spectrum.

The big six cellcos will battle it out for pan-Indian spectrum at 2.5GHz, along with Qualcomm and HFCL.

The government is selling just three or four slots per circle available for auction at 2.1Ghz, and two slots per circle at 2.5Ghz.

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