Govt starts download of 3G bids, number switch

NEW DELHI: India’s 300-million mobile subscribers have reasons to cheer. From mid-2009 they will be able to access third-generation (3G) services such as high-speed internet, interactive gaming, and instant downloads of movies, video clips and music on their mobile phones. And that’s not all. They will also have the option of changing their telecom operator without having to change their mobile numbers.

After nearly two years of debate and controversy, the government on Friday finally announced its plans for a global auction of third-generation (3G) radio frequencies, a move that could bring in billions of dollars for the government. The government also announced the introduction of mobile number portability (MNP) as well as a separate auction for broadband wireless access (BWA) services spectrum, popularly called WiMAX.

All this will of course come at a price for the consumer. Monthly phone bills went up by as much as 50% for subscribers in some countries when they switched from the normal 2G services to 3G services. Moreover, many subscribers may have to upgrade their handsets to avail 3G services.

The starting price for a 3G-enabled handset is about Rs 6,000 compared to an entry level phone of Rs 700. Finally, India is primarily a ‘voice’ market and it remains to be seen how many subscribers take to 3G-driven data services. It took nearly eight to ten years for customers in Europe to adopt 3G services in a big way.

3G rollout in India may be impacted by a parallel WiMax rollout. WiMax, an evolving technology is considered a threat to 3G as it offers data download speeds that are 10-30 times faster than 3G. And so while consumers can choose between opting for the two services, telcos would probably want to offer both services
Avdhoot Investment

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