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India regulator: 3G "nowhere on the horizon"

23 июня 2008

The introduction of third generation or 3G technology, which offers hi-speed data services and improves voice quality on mobile phone networks, is still "nowhere on the horizon" in India, the telecom regulator's chairman said.

The comment comes after the government said it aims to bring out the country's long-pending 3G policy by June 30. Operators such as Bharti Airtel Ltd. have earlier said they need about six months to rollout 3G after the radio bandwidth needed for these services is auctioned.

"3G is something where a delay has already taken place.
It's nowhere on the horizon. It should have taken place one-and-a-half years ago," Nripendra Misra, who heads the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, told Dow Jones Newswires in a recent interview.

India, the world's fastest growing telecom market, still doesn't have 3G operations primarily because the industry, the government and the telecom regulator have differed over whether new telecom operators should be eligible to bid for the spectrum needed to provide these services.

But Misra said allowing new players to bid for the auction "would perhaps be a retrograde step" and would give rise to "a host of issues."

He said if new players are given 3G spectrum, they would automatically be eligible for launching 2G operations as there is only one license - Unified Access Services Licenses - that is required to offer any kind of telecom service in the country.

"And there are already 320 companies waiting for 2G licenses, so what happens to them," he said.

According to local media reports, the Department of Telecommunications, which is a part of the communications and information technology ministry, has been in favor of new operators bidding for spectrum as it would increase the government's revenue.

But the proposal has been opposed by existing service providers who fear it would raise competition and the value of the bids.

"There is no scope for any difference of opinion (between DoT and TRAI).
Our view, which we have sent, is that only (existing 2G) licensees should be eligible for (3G) auction. It's up to the government to accept it or not," Misra said, referring to TRAI's advisory-only role.

To Send Report On Virtual Network Operations In 60 Days

Misra also said TRAI plans to send the government its recommendations on the eligibility criteria and operational guidelines for mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs, in
India in the next two months.

"On the safer side I think about 60 days to push out the report," Misra."But when you get into details, MVNOs will come or not come is not the issue."

Analysts say the introduction of these operations in
India will lead to higher competition and a subsequent fall in call tariffs, which are already among the lowest in the world at about a U.S. cent a minute.

The addition of about eight million new subscribers every month and untapped growth in rural areas are luring foreign and local companies to enter the market.

Allowing these operations in
India will also enable global mobile virtual network operators such as the U.K.-based Virgin Group to begin operations in India by using the infrastructure of existing operators.

"It is the process. We still have to understand the scope of it (an MVNO operation) and regulatory issues related to it.
Otherwise, MVNO is a proven practice across the world," he added.

Источник: Total Telecom

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