Spectrum snippets

India may soon have one more round of auctions for the allocation of wireless broadband and 2G spectrum, according to new numbers released by the department of telecom. The numbers, released under the new transparent policy initiated by telecom minister Kapil Sibal, show that the government has now got more spectrum — in wireless broadband band as well as in 2G or voice services — to accommodate one or more new players in each state. Wireless broadband spectrum is much sought after, particularly after it emerged that Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries was also in the fray and became the only player with pan-India spectrum. Most of the big traditional operators, including the Anil Ambani group and Airtel, had stayed away from most of the circles during the broadband spectrum auction primarily because of the heavy expenses incurred during the preceding 3G spectrum auction. They also did not anticipate the emergence of a player like Mukesh Ambani. The entry of the senior Ambani, however, changed the outlook of most of the operators towards this segment, with many regretting that they did not make aggressive bids. To add to the pressure, US equipment maker Qualcomm also walked off with the most coveted circles of Mumbai and Delhi. The corporation later said it would only give that spectrum to those operators who would commit to TD-LTE technology for rolling out the service, in an effort to deny the first mover advantage to rival Wimax technology. Nearly all the circles have 20 MHz of wireless broadband spectrum that was freed up since the government conducted the auction almost a year ago. One 20 MHz block fetched the government nearly Rs13,000 crore during last year's auction and may fetch a higher price if auctioned today, due to the 'premium' tag attracted by the service due to Mukesh Ambani's entry.However, UP, Rajasthan and Punjab did not have broadband spectrum available, as per the numbers. No more 3G spectrum was available, according to charts, but some circles had as much as 25-30 MHz of 2G spectrum — enough to cater to 5-8 operators.

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