India’s 3G Auction Rescheduled to April

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India's auction of 3G licenses has been fixed for April 9, after three postponements, the government said on Wednesday.

A notice inviting applications is scheduled to be issued on Thursday, and the last date for submission of applications is March 19, according to the new schedule announced by the government.

The auction of spectrum for BWA (broadband wireless access) including WiMax will commence two days after the 3G auction is complete, according to the government.

A number of Indian and multinational mobile service providers have shown interest in bidding for the 3G licenses.

The online auction for these licenses was first scheduled to be held in January last year, but was delayed because of disagreement between the country's finance and telecommunications ministries over the minimum price for the bids.

The auction was further delayed as the defense ministry is reported to have said that it was unable to release spectrum soon enough for use by the 3G licensees.

The government said last year that it plans to raise 250 billion Indian rupees (US$5.4 billion) as the minimum revenue from the auction of the 3G and BWA licenses in the country. Four slots in each service area were to be auctioned, with a fifth slot reserved for two government-run companies.

The two companies -- Bharat Sanchar Nigam, and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam -- already offer 3G services in the country.

India had 545 million mobile subscribers at the end of January, with 46 persons out of every 100 having mobile subscriptions, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said on Tuesday. TRAI has already initiated discussions with industry and other relevant organizations on the introduction of 4G (fourth generation) services around the International Mobile Telecommunications-Advanced (IMT-Advanced) standard proposed by the International Telecommunication Union.

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