New Delhi: India has picked NM Rothschild and Sons Ltd as the independent auctioneer to help it sell permits for airwaves to offer high-speed mobile phone services, communications and information technology minister A. Raja said on Tuesday.
The auction of licences for the third-generation (3G) mobile phone radio spectrum will start in “two to three days” and is expected to be completed by 15 January, said Siddhartha Behura, secretary to the Union government’s telecommunications department.
The permits will allow Bharti Airtel Ltd and other mobile phone operators to offer faster services and boost revenue as customers spend more on videos and Internet downloads. India added 10.1 million subscribers in September, more than the eight million added in China, the world’s biggest wireless market.
Bharti, India’s largest mobile phone operator, has sought bids for building its 3G network from suppliers such as Ericsson AB and Nokia Siemens Networks and may start the services as early as the fourth quarter of 2009, chief executive officer Manoj Kohli said last week. On 1 August, India said it may allow as many as 10 operators to offer high-speed wireless services to spur competition.
India has set a base price of Rs2,015 crore for a licence to provide nation wide 3G services using the global system of mobile communications standard, and overseas operators will be allowed to vie for the permits.
The country will start number portability services from June, allowing mobile phone customers to switch providers while retaining their numbers, Raja said.
India this year surpassed the US as the largest wireless- services market after China. India had 325.7 million subscribers at the end of October, the country’s telecom regulator said on Monday.