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India to revise 3G timeline... again

13 января 2009

India's Department of Telecommunications (DoT) could once again be ready to delay the country's 3G auction, and has also proposed that more licences be made available.

According to a notification on the regulator's Website on Monday, the DoT plans to announce yet another revised timeline for the auction process.

Full details are yet to be made public, but a report in the Economic Times late last week said that the DoT was mulling whether to recommend a further postponement due to unfavourable economic conditions.

Doubts over whether foreign telcos would be able to take part in the bidding process were first aired by India's finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram in October. 

Despite this, the regulator last week insisted that the Indian government is on track to begin the 3G licensing process on 30 January.

As well as economic woes potentially delaying the long-awaited auction, the DoT also proposed last Friday to allow up to eight players, rather than five, to be awarded licences for 3G spectrum in each of India's 22 telecom circles.

Local media reports said that the move was aimed at increasing the revenue generated by the auction, after the DoT rejected demands from India's finance ministry to double the base price for a nationwide 3G licence.

"The earlier suggestion of the finance ministry to double the base price met with stiff opposition from the industry and some other ministries," said a DoT official in a report by the Economic Times.

One source last week said that any price changes would mean participants needing further time to raise additional funds.

"Making more slots available seems to be amore feasible option," commented the DoT official.

Still, such a proposal could hinder progress further, as final details for the tender process are hammered out.

Indian authorities are under pressure to drive bids for 3G licences amid the deteriorating economic environment, after setting a target of raising 40 billion rupees ($8.2 billion) from the auction.

Источник: Total Telecom

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