The much awaited auction of 3G spectrum, set to take place on December 7 this year has been postponed to January, according to Hindu. Telecommunications and Information Technology minister A.Raja has said that 3G players have requested it to be held after Christmas holidays; he said that it would definitely be held by the end of the fiscal. The WiMAX auction, which was to be held alongside the 3G auction, has also been delayed.
The 3G auction page remains blank.
Global 3G telcos are interested in participating in India’s 3G auctions. Note that successful 3G bidders will also be offered 2G spectrum when it is available, they can gain a foothold into the fast growing telecom market with over 400 million mobile subscribers, though the ARPU situation looks bleak.
Timeline of Delay
April 2008 – AUSPI writes to DoT on behalf of CDMA operators asking to stall the 3G auction and offer clarification in charges of spectrum before the auctions were held.
August 2008 – TRAI issues guidelines, finance ministry objects to the pricing for 3G auction being taken without taking its opinion into account.
September 2008 – DoT modifies guidelines
October, 2008 – Vodafone asked the government to postpone the auctions due to the economic recession. (ET)
The government pushed it to January 15, 2009 as international banks would struggle if a financial commitment was required before year end seeing as the holidays were coming up.
December 2008 – DoT does not receive approval from Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on higher 3G spectrum charge and number of blocks to be auctioned in each circle.
TRAI proposes new 3G guidelines.
The last date for accepting applications is pushed to January 20, 2009 on account of not enough applications from foreign operators.
January 2009 – Government defers it again to January 30, 2009 after disagreements over the floor price between the ministry of finance and the ministry of IT & communication.
February 2009 – PSU telco BSNL launches 3G network
April-May, 2009 – Indian elections derail 3G spectrum auction
May, 2009 – MTNL rolls out its 3G network.
July 28, 2009 – COAI and GSMA write to the government that the auction of 3G spectrum should be held irrespective of the current policies governing 2G spectrum in the country. (Business Line)
July 31, 2009 – First meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers, a panel headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee for taking the decision of 3G pricing is delayed as the the defence minister A.K.Anthony could not attend it.
Sep 2009 – Private player Idea Cellular’s Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla writes to the home minister saying the 2G allocation policy had to be finalised before the 3G auctions.
TRAI seeks time till November to evaluate 2G allocation reforms.