To many of us following the 3G saga in India play out over the last three-four years, things have become quite frustrating over the past eight months. There has been a consistent push from government ministries to increase the base price for the 3G spectrum auction, and since licenses and spectrum are linked, it is likely that the auction will not be about spectrum but market entry for yet another telecom operator. That may push up prices again. But let's be very clear about two things: firstly, that the 3G auction is about spectrum. And secondly, that 3G spectrum will merely marry high bandwidth with mobility, and there will be no jadoo (magic). 3G is not about applications or video as some will tell you: it's just taking bandwidth that you get on your broadband connection, and making it mobile. Sure, there might be some services hosted remotely, similar to Hello Tunes/CRBT, but a majority of the applications will need to be actively accessed by users, and can be data heavy. The persistent fear is that 3G in India will not be about higher bandwidth, but about voice, since telecom operators are focused on a "land-grab" of subscribers. That would be a mistake: more spectrum - 3G or otherwise - will be coupled with a decline in average revenue per minute as subscribers get added, since most of the new subscribers will be at the lower end of the ARPU pyramid. It will lead to fewer network issues and dropped…
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