Successful 3G bidders eligible for 2G spectrum space: DoT (Roundup)

December 23rd, 2008 - 8:17 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 23 (IANS) Successful bidders for spectrum allocation for third generation (3G) telecom services will also be eligible for second generation (2G) spectrum space, the government said here Tuesday.“Successful 3G bidders will be eligible for acquiring second generation (2G) spectrum as well,” Member (Finance) of Telecom Commission R. Ashok said at a conference ahead of the 3G auctions.

However, 2G-spectrum allocation will be subject to availability and operators will have to wait in queue, he said.

Currently, the 2G spectrum is saturated and the government is waiting for defence to vacate the airwaves.

Ashok’s statement helped dispel rumours that 3G operators would only be allowed to function in the 3G domain.

At the same conference, Department of Telecommunications (DoT) officials said a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) policy might come out before the 3G spectrum auctions.

“MVNO policy is under consideration and we are hoping to come out with the policy by January 5, 2009, that is the last application date,” DoT Joint Secretary J.S. Deepak said.

MVNO is a company that provides mobile phone service but does not have its own licensed frequency allocation of radio spectrum, nor does it necessarily have the entire infrastructure required to provide mobile telephone service.

Britain’s Virgin Mobile has already partnered with India’s Tata Teleservices in order to enter the Indian market but under a franchise agreement to offer innovative service.

At the recent launch of the state-run operator Mahanagar Telephone Nigam’s 3G service, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said the government was considering MVNOs.

Also, while talking about the clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), DoT’s Deepak said: “Foreign companies can seek clearance from FIPB before the 3G auctions so as to save time and avoid any hassles after the spectrum allocation.”

Regarding vacation of spectrum by the defence, Deepak said discussion were still on with armed forces, and it is not known when the next round of 3G auctions will happen.

The Dot official also said that a non-UAS (unified access service) license can acquire a UAS license holder company, provided it does not have spectrum already.

A UAS license enables a telecom service provider to provide triple play services - fixed line, wireless and broadband.

In another development, DoT officials said Chennai and Tamil Nadu telecom circles will now be merged, and that license holders in these circles can bid for the combined circle.

Regarding Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) auction, Sanjay Bhandarkar, managing director of Rothschild, the e-auctioneer which will oversee the entire auction process, said: “There will be separate auctions for BWA. Once we are done with the 3G auctions, two-three days later these auctions will take place.”

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