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DoT plans 3G spectrum for broadband

NEW DELHI: Apart from 3G spectrum auction guidelines, the DoT (department of telecom) is simultaneously preparing to auction spectrum for broadband wireless access (BWA) services in the 2.5 GHz and 2.3 GHz bands.

BWA enables high-speed data communication over wireless links. It offers significant advantages over wireless and broadband systems based on cable networks or DSL, like better coverage, speedy deployment, high scale ability, low maintenance and costs.

Broadband growth in India has been abysmal. By 2006-end there were 1.8 million broadband subscribers, with a target of 7 million by 2010. The government has upgraded its target to 20 million in the next two years, which is forcing a complete rethink on its current policy.

The DoT has decided that all existing unified, mobile, basic and internet licensees can bid for BWA spectrum. New prospective service providers can also bid but they will have to obtain either a unified or ISP licence once they succeed in the bidding for BWA spectrum.

Each operator of BWA spectrum can place bids for spectrum upto 20 MHz in blocks of 5 MHz each. Bidders will be allowed to use any ITU approved technology. Total spectrum available in the 2.5 and 2.3 GHz bands is about 80 MHz.

The auction will be conducted for initial, one time spectrum charge via a controlled, simultaneous, ascending e-auction along the lines that have been suggested for 3G spectrum.

The bidding will be circle-wise. If an operator wants to bid for two blocks of 5 MHz he will need to indicate this at the beginning. Every bidder will need to deposit an earnest money guarantee of 25% of reserve price of per block of spectrum. Winners will have to deposit 25% of the successful bid at close of auction and the rest within seven days. No bidder can either withdraw or reduce the bid in subsequent rounds.

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