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Dream of Indian 3G auction by December 7 recedes

The Indian Government’s dream of an auction of 3G airspace by the start of December is now receding. Reports from New Delhi indicate that the Department of Telecom (DoT) has had difficulties in getting the initial processes underway.

 The timetable for the auction was supposed to include September 29, when those who had registered interest in the auction were to have received numerous details of the procedures they had to follow. This has not happened - and the October 8 date for questions arising from the necessary Information Memorandum (IM) has also been unattainable.

 There is thus a knock-on effect, with one deadline after another being put back until the initial stages can be completed. There had been considerable interest in the intended auction, as services such as video-conferencing would have been allocated their providers. It is thus all too clear that a 2009 date must be selected for the next 3G auction.

In the DoT’s defence, it must be said that the Indian Defence Ministry has been dragging its feet. While the DoT wanted to map out 3G airwaves and present a definitive list of available space, the Defence Ministry had not handed over its control of certain airwaves within the allotted time. In fact, until the current problems are resolved, the military controls most airwaves - 45MHz of radio frequencies are to be surrendered by 2012, with 25MHz to be devoted to 3g and 20MHz to 2G.

Needless to say, five telcos enjoying 3G spectrum is an ambition on the back-burner for now.

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