India all set to have 3G mobile service

New Delhi: 3G mobile and broadband services are all set to be launched in India, with the government allotting air waves to private operators after making certain amends to the license terms.

According to the amended license conditions, the operators are allowed to use the spectrum for a period of 20 years. As per the conditions, the companies are allowed to offer 3G services till the validity of the spectrum even if the companies' licenses expire prior to that.

The government has imposed a roll-out obligation, under which the service providers would have to cover at least 90 percent of the service areas in the metros within the next five years.

According to the amendment, if the operators fail to achieve the roll-out obligations, they would be given extension for one more year after paying 2.5 percent of the spectrum acquisition charge per quarter. In addition, in case of two companies merging, only one slot of spectrum can be retained, according to the amended rules.

The operators who had bagged 3G spectrum in the auction in May were Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, RCom, Tatas, Idea Cellular, Aircel and S Tel. These operators fetched the government over Rs.51,000 crore apart from about Rs.16,000 crore from the two telecom PSUs - BSNL and MTNL.

In view of their obligation to procure equipments through cumbersome process of inviting tenders, BSNL and MTNL were awarded spectrum more than a year ago. The operators have been awarded 5 Mhz of spectrum in each circle they won in the auction.

Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance Communication had emerged as the winners in Delhi and Mumbai. On the other hand, no operator could bag pan-India spectrum in the auction that was conducted between April 9 and May 18 this year.

The government had auctioned three 3G slots throughout the nation, while four slots were offered in five circles.
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