India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has allocated third-generation spectrum to those operators that successfully won UMTS concessions in the much-delayed auction that closed in May 2010, the Business Standard reports. Having set 1 September as the deadline for the spectrum allocation, the regulator has handed out frequencies to all seven winning bidders: Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications (RCOM), Idea Cellular, Vodafone Essar, Aircel, STel and Tata Teleservices (TTSL). State-owned operators Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) had already been handed 3G spectrum back in July 2008, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database.
The first commercial 3G launches by private players are now expected to take place by the end of 2010, with the state having set down rollout obligations that stipulate operators must provide connectivity in 90% of the metro cities and at least 50% of smaller towns and districts within the next five years. In addition, any operator that fails to inaugurate UMTS services by 2 September 2011 will be required to pay 2.5% of their successful bid amount for a one-year extension, and if no service is launched following that period then operators will have to return their 3G spectrum.