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India's DoT confirms global 3G auction

21 марта 2008

India's Department of Telecommunications (DoT) Thursday announced plans that will enable new players including foreign operators to acquire 3G spectrum in the country.

In a report by India's Economic Times, the DoT said that new GSM entrants will be allowed to bid for up to 10 MHz of 3G spectrum, or two blocks, which would give them enough capacity to launch 3G services.

The decision overrules the Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which earlier proposed that only existing GSM operators be allowed to bid for single blocks of 5 MHz spectrum, which would boost their existing capacity and enable them to launch 3G services. Under the DoT's new guidelines, that rule regarding existing players remains in place.

The DoT has also specified that successful bidders will receive unified access service (UAS) licences for 3G services, meaning they will not be eligible to launch 2G services.

The Indian government approved a global 3G auction last year, but the TRAI opposed the move, claiming it would not be financially viable for new players to build out new networks, compared to existing GSM operators, which have already made substantial infrastructure investments. 

Thursday's decision by the DoT is likely to be welcome news to
U.S. telecoms giant AT&T.

The carrier's CEO Randall Stephenson has been lobbying the Indian government to give the green light for AT&T to bid for 3G spectrum.

However, the DoT has imposed strict licence obligations for operators that are successful in their 3G bids, and reiterated Thursday that it will come down heavily on those that fail to meet them.

Operators that do not achieve their rollout obligations will be given one further year to meet them, during which they will be fined 2.5% of their winning auction bid per quarter.

"If operators do not complete their rollout obligations even within the one year grace period, their spectrum assignment would be cancelled and the spectrum would be allocated via an auction to a new operator," said the DoT in a report by The Hindu.

What's more, no entity related to the defaulting operator would be allowed to bid in the resulting auction.

Источник: Total Telecom

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