India's First 3G Operator Starts Service

Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL), an Indian government controlled telecommunications services provider, on Thursday launched in parts of Delhi's first 3G (third-generation) mobile service.

The service was launched by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who received a video call using a 3G enabled handset from his communications minister, A. Raja, according to information from the country's Press Information Bureau.

MTNL plans to launch the service early next year in Mumbai and Chennai in south India.

India announced in August that it would auction 3G spectrum to Indian and foreign bidders.

State owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) and MTNL were however allotted 3G slots in the service areas they operate in, without participating in the bid. The government said that these companies would however have to pay a license fee for the spectrum at the highest bid in each service area.

The auction of 3G spectrum for the private sector is now scheduled for January, giving MTNL and BSNL a first-to-market advantage.

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