No Indian 3G in this Fiscal Year

(17 Feb 2009, BWCS Staff)

India is facing yet more delays to its planned sale of 3G licences. The latest reports coming from Delhi say that the sale of the five licences will not go ahead before April and is likely to be pushed back even further.  The government had hoped for an end of March auction, but this is now extremely unlikely to be achieved. The Indian press reports that many telecoms service operators are also opposing any speeding up of the auction as they find themselves in an unprecedented financial crunch.

The Indian government is already expecting to generate less cash than it had previously hoped for from the coming sale of its 3G licences. According to the recent budget figures, released by the finance ministry, the 3G auction is likely to bring in around 200 billion rupees (US$4.1 billion) during the next fiscal year 2009/2010. This figure is around 50% less than the amount that the government had originally hoped for.

India's telecoms ministry announced a global auction of radio spectrum to be used for third and fourth generation mobile services last year and set a base price of 20.2 billion rupees (US$413 million) for a slice of spectrum that could be used for national 3G services. However, the sale was delayed when the finance ministry tried to double the reserve price. A panel of ministers has been meeting recently to decide how best to proceed with the much-anticipated sale of 3G franchises in the world's fastest growing mobile market.

Meanwhile as the government holds off on the sale of 3G licences to competitors, the state-owned telecom operators, MTNL and BSNL continue to build up their 3G subscriber bases. 


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