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Indian wireless market continues to expand

Posted: 19 Nov 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:WiMAX  3G  Mobile Number Portability  mobile-phone demand  wireless subscriber 

3G and WiMAX policy

India's Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in August released its 3G and WiMAX policy, which covers both GSM and CDMA services. Key features of the policy include:

- Foreign companies will be allowed to bid for 3G and WiMAX licences in India.

- Up to five licences will be issued to operators over 60MHz of spectrum in each coverage area for telecom companies. Five additional operators may be added in the future.

- The 3G spectrum in the 2.1GHz band will be available for auction, with spectrum allotment for 20 years.

- WiMAX spectrum at the 2.3GHz and 2.5GHz bands will be available for auction, with spectrum allotment for 15 years.

- Spectrum is set to be auctioned in blocks of 2x5MHz at the 2.1GHz band and 20MHz at the 2.3GHZ and 2.5GHz bands.

- Operators are exempted from paying an annual fee during the first year of operation.

- Operators will pay an annual spectrum charge of 1 per cent of adjusted gross revenue after one year.

- Companies holding a Universal Access Service License (UASL), and/or fulfilling the eligibility criteria of UASL and possessing previous experience of running 3G services can bid for spectrum.

- Rollout obligations include 90 per cent of metros' areas within five years from the date of spectrum allocation.

As a result of the announcement of the above policy, the Indian telecom sector has seen a host of activities pertaining to 3G and WiMAX technologies. These include:

- State-owned telecom operators Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) each received single blocks in each 2.1GHz (3G) and 2.5GHz (WiMAX) spectrum. These firms are expected to roll out their 3G and WiMAX services by the end of 2008. This has given them a head start compared to other private telecom players.

- Apple Inc. in August launched its iPhone 3G in collaboration with Airtel and Vodafone.

- Tata Communications, previously named Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (VSNL), launched WiMAX in Bangalore. The company plans to invest Rs.2,752.00 crore ($500 million) to roll out the service in Chennai, Delhi and Hyderabad.

- Sloka Telecom, a global player in wireless broadband solutions, has initiated aggressive brand building activities in India. The company is in the advanced stage of sample product testing and negotiations with some telecom OEMs and service providers for offering WiMAX solutions.

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