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Global telcos eye Indian 3G auction

08 октября 2009

When India's auction of 3G and broadband wireless access spectrum goes ahead – be it in December as planned or delayed until next year – India's existing mobile operators could face competition from a number of the global big guns.

U.S. giant AT&T has expressed its interest in entering the competition, and it is not alone, according to reports in India's Financial Express.

Australia's Telstra and South Korea's SK Telecom are also reportedly keen to get in on the act, although all three are playing their cards close to their chests and have declined to comment.

The paper quoted officials at India's Department of Telecommunications (DoT) as saying that AT&T has shown a "firm interest" in bidding in the 3G spectrum auctions and has been in contact with the DoT since the reserve price for the contest was announced.

The government set a starting price of 35 billion rupees ($714 million) for one slot of pan-Indian 3G bandwidth in late August.

AT&T's move comes four years after it exited India; the telco sold its stake in Idea Cellular after merging with Cingular Wireless in 2005.

But market re-entry will come at a price.

AT&T received around $250 million for its 33% stake in Idea Cellular, a stake that would now be worth more than $3 billion, the paper pointed out, adding that AT&T could find itself with a bill for as much as 80 billion rupees ($1.7 billion) to acquire all the necessary spectrum.

Winning spectrum in the forthcoming auction would also mark a return to India for Telstra.

In June 2000 the Australian operator sold its 49% stake in Modi Telstra, a GSM operator it helped set up in 1993, for A$27 million. Modi Telstra went on to become Spice Communications, which is now owned by Idea Cellular.

The Financial Express report said that Telstra will bid only for broadband wireless access spectrum India, via an auction that will take place once the 3G contest is concluded.

But with the base price for BWA spectrum set at 17.5 billion rupees ($370 million), it will not be a cheap re-entry for Telstra either.

The DoT is scheduled to open the 3G spectrum auction on 7 December, however reports in the past few days suggest yet another delay is likely.

India's Economic Times reported on Monday that the DoT failed to meet a 29 September deadline to provide prospective bidders with a revised Information Memorandum, detailing auction rules and financial information.

As a result, the paper predicted that the auction could be pushed back into 2010.

Источник: Total Telecom

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