India’s telecoms minister Kapil Sibal has reportedly announced that the Indian government expects to make around 160MHz of broadband wireless access-suitable (BWA-suitable) spectrum available next year. According to India’s Economic Times, the minister revealed the plans at the opening session of the World Summit of the Information Society in Geneva, noting: ‘To encourage private sector participation in government efforts, last year we had conducted a very successful auction of the 3G and BWA spectrum. It is expected that a total of 160MHz spectrum would now be available for BWA use by the next year.’ It is expected meanwhile that the state will adopt a technology neutral approach for the spectrum, meaning that operators will be free to technologies ranging from WiMAX or Wi-Fi to Long Term Evolution (LTE).
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in June 2010 the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) concluded an auction for wireless broadband spectrum. In the sale one company, Infotel Broadband Services, won BWA licences for all 22 of India’s telecoms circles, paying INR128.48 billion (USD2.74 billion) for 20MHz in each region. Mobile network operator Aircel meanwhile bagged the next largest number of BWA licences, eight, for a total of INR34.38 billion, with Tikona Digital Networks paying INR10.58 billion for five licences. Rounding out the winners were US-based chipmaker Qualcomm and India’s largest cellco by subscribers Bharti Airtel, with four licences apiece, costing INR49.13 billion and INR33.14 billion respectively, and Augere, which claimed just one concession for INR1.25 billion. State-owned operators Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) were both also handed 20MHz of BWA spectrum in their respective areas of operation on the condition they match the prices paid by the winners of the auction.