India Schedules 3G License Auction for December

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India's auction of 3G and WiMax licenses is now scheduled to be held in December, according to a notice on the Web site of the country's Department of Telecommunications.

The auction was originally scheduled for January of this year, but was postponed after disagreement within the government on the minimum cost of the licenses.

Bidding for 3G licenses will start Dec 7, with the WiMax auction scheduled to start two days after the 3G auction is complete, according to the notice.

Both Indian and foreign companies are allowed to bid for the licenses, but foreign companies will have to set up joint ventures with Indian investors to run services in the country.

A group of ministers, set up to resolve the dispute over pricing the licenses, has named Indian rupees 250 billion (US$5 billion) as the minimum revenue from the auction of the 3G and WiMax licenses in the country, India's Minister of Communications, A. Raja said last month.

The Ministry of Communications will license four slots for 3G in each of India's 22 service areas, with a fifth slot reserved for two government-run telecommunications companies.

A telecommunications company bidding for 3G licenses in all 22 circles will have to pay at least Indian rupees 35 billion, according to the new minimum pricing proposed by the Indian government. By the pricing announced last year, they would have to pay about rupees 20 billion.

Two companies, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd., were allotted 3G spectrum ahead of the auction, and have started offering services. The government said last year that these companies would have to pay license fees equal to the highest bid in each service area.

The final date for applications from bidders is Nov 13.

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