3G Sale (Finally) Gets Green Light in India ...

(23 Feb 2010, BWCS Staff)

At Long last the Indian government has announced that there are no longer any obstacles to its planned auction of 3G licences. In fact, barring any last minute mishaps, the process of selling off the spectrum set aside in India for 3G and broadband wireless services should start this week. Communications and IT Minister, Mr A. Raja, said yesterday that the Notice Inviting Applications, which gives the policy guidelines for the auction, will be issued by the end of this week. More importantly he added the words that many have been waiting a long time to hear "All issues have been resolved."

However, this is only the beginning of the end. The auction process proper will not start for another 40 to 45 days, and that count-down will only start from the time of issuing the NIA. In effect, the sale is unlikely to be finished until the end of May.

In fact, the amount of spectrum that will be on offer is still not clear, though it is understood that three different chunks of spectrum will be sold in most of the different areas, though some may have enough spectrum for four.

The break through seems to have been the Law Ministry's decision to grant approval to the NIA last week. Noticeably though, the government has already removed one clause which stated that it would refund the bid amount in case the auctioned spectrum was not allocated by September 1, 2010.

This time around, the Government is more confident of moving ahead after the Finance Minister, managed to persuade the armed forces to vacate part of its radio spectrum as per a memorandum of understanding signed with the DoT. The move away from its spectrum relies on the government providing fibre-optic solutions to the army at key defence installations. In return, the Ministry of Defence will release 25Mhz of 3G and 15Mhz of 2G spectrum once the equipment required for the cable network is installed.


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