It is quite heartening to see that DoT for once, has ensured that it has met the deadline given – The 3G spectrum allocation to Telecom Operators deadline was set for 1st September and it has been achieved.
Department of Telecommunication yesterday allocated spectrum for third generation (3G) mobile services to all 7 operators – Vodafone Essar, Reliance Communication, Tata Teleservices, Bharti Airtel, Aircel and Idea Cellular. [List of 3G auction winners and Auction prices]
Obligations for 3G Roll-out:
While handing over 3G spectrum, DoT has laid some strict clauses that Telecom Operators have comply to:
- All 3G providers have to mandatorily ensure that street level coverage is given in at least 90% of the coverage area within 5 years from date of allocation.
- The Telecom Operator has to ensure that atleast 50% of the District Headquarters (DHQ), of which at least 15% should be rural SDC areas within 5 years timeframe. Rural SDC areas are such that 50% of their population lives in rural areas. However, Operator can choose to expand beyond 50% in towns and district areas.
- The roll-out HAS to happen within 5 years time-frame, but if the operator fails, another 1 years extension will be given. If not achieved by then, the spectrum will then be withdrawn.
3G Spectrum Charges
The DoT has amended the Annual 3G spectrum charges that have to be paid by Telecom Operators as given below:
Get full details and other clauses here
When will the Consumers get it?
The important question however is, when will we, the consumers, be able to taste the sweet speed of 3G on our devices? when will the Operators start giving out 3G services to end users?
Most of the Operators have mentioned earlier that if they are allotted the spectrum on time, they would be able to offer it to consumers by end of the year (i.e: 3 months from now). I believe, it is very much a possibility as even the telecom operators do not want to these expensive frequencies to lie idle. The earlier the operator comes, the better chances it has of garnering more mobile internet users.
Infact, I foresee race amongst all the operators as to who launches these services first. This is also going to be quite interesting if Mobile Number Portability comes into play…interesting times ahead :).