India’s wireless broadband auction starts Monday

There are 11 bidders in this auction, including Qualcomm

India's auction of spectrum for wireless broadband starts Monday, with 11 bidders in the contest, the country's Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said on Friday.

The Indian government is auctioning two blocks of 20MHz unpaired spectrum in the 2.3GHz band in each of the 22 service areas in the country. A third block has been reserved in all the service areas for two government-owned companies -- Bharat Sanchar Nigam and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam. Although not part of the auction, they will have to pay the equivalent of the winning bid in each service area, the DOT said.

The bidders include some mobile operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular, which also bid for the recently concluded auction of 3G spectrum in the country.

The auction of both 3G and wireless broadband spectrum had been postponed for a number of reasons since January last year.

Qualcomm is one of the 11 bidders in the auction. It said in March that it is bidding in the auction to promote the TD-LTE (Time Division Long-Term Evolution) standard. In line with Indian rules, it will form a joint venture with an Indian partner to set up a TD-LTE network, and will exit the venture later, the company said at the time.

The Indian government also approved Friday the results of the auction for 3G, in which nine bidders participated. The auction, which took 34 days, ended on Wednesday. The winning bidders have to pay the bid amounts by the end of this month.

The 3G auction has earned the Indian government about 509.6 billion rupees (US$11 billion) from private companies. Government service provider companies, which were allotted spectrum ahead of the auctions, are also required to pay fees equivalent to the highest bids in each service area, taking the government's total revenue to 677 billion rupees.

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John Ribeiro

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