From September, mobile phone users can hope to get the 3G service from the operators who recently won bids in the spectrum auction, while the high-speed Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) service roll-out could be much faster.

“As the Ministry of Defence has given us an assurance on vacating spectrum at the earliest, we will allot spectrum to the successful bidders on September 1 to offer hi-end mobile services, while we are ready to release spectrum for the BWA service,” Telecom Secretary P.J. Thomas told journalists here.

The spectrum auction process conducted by the Department of Telecommunications, along with the auctioneer consortium of N.M. Rothschild India (Private) Limited and DotEcon of the United Kingdom, was fool-proof, Mr. Thomas said.

“While the overall proceeds from the auction for the 3G and BWA spectrum at over Rs.1.06-lakh crore exceeded all expectations, an equally important aspect is that the true market value of the spectrum was determined through an efficient and transparent process,” he said.

The auction format and severe spectrum shortage, along with ensuing policy uncertainty, drove the prices beyond reasonable levels. As a result, the objective of pan-Indian 3G footprint in this round could not be achieved. Similarly, in the case of the BWA auction, scarcity of slots resulted in extremely high price levels, he noted.

Mr. Thomas, however, maintained that the high prices of spectrum would not lead to costlier 3G or broadband services as competition and market forces would not allow this to happen. Notably, the 3G spectrum contract had been signed for 20 years. The government earned Rs.1,06,262.26 crore from the auction.

Meanwhile, N.M. Rothschild, a global investment banking organisation, earned Rs.30.5 crore as commission from the government for conducting the e- auction of the 3G and broadband spectrum. The government had committed 0.115 per cent of the difference of the highest bid and the reserve price as commission to Rothschild.

Keywords: 3G spectrum

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