Sunil Jain makes compelling arguments against TRAI’s recommendation of not allowing entry of new operators to provide 3G services in the country. Recommend that you read the full article.

This was the import of a recommendation made by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on 3G spectrum last September but, thankfully, the then Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran chose to ignore it and said he’d invite new players into the field. Now that Maran’s been asked to go, the industry’s making one valiant attempt to win over his successor into accepting Trai’s recommendations in toto.

Trai’s recommendations, of course, were amazing and, presumably, Maran saw through the inconsistencies in them. While the mobile phone firms argued that 3G services (which allow vastly superior services to be offered wirelessly, including internet data speeds of at least 144 kbps) should be given to them without a one-time entry fee as they were just an extension of their existing 2G licences, Trai rejected this.

It said 3G was a new service and so it should be auctioned. But if it was a new service, how did Trai arrive at the conclusion that the auction should be limited to just the existing mobile phone players- that’s both the GSM-cellular lot as well as the CDMA-lot (also called the Unified Access Service Licence, or UASL holders) like Reliance Communications and the Tatas?

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India is set to miss the deadline for the launch of commercial 3G services yet again.

ET reports that the Ministry of Defence has informed the Department of Telecom that the armed services would require additional time, up to 390 days, to vacate the 45 MHz spectrum which it currently occupies.

The delay means that 3G services will now be launched only in early ’08 instead of the second half of ’07.

Government sources said the primary reason for the defence ministry seeking more time was due to BSNL’s and MTNL’s failure to complete the Rs 980 crore alternative optic fibre backbone for the armed forces as per schedule.

Also Read:
TRAI fixes hybrid 3G spectrum fee structure
Defence ministry to free spectrum for 3G by year end

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The 3 in 3G means tax three times, it seems.

ET quotes COAI chairman, TV Ramachandran

“The high initial fee and a revenue share percentage is tantamount to a triple taxation.

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GSM body COAI says that TRAI’s recommendations on allocation of 3G spectrum were completely in favour of CDMA mobile operators and also criticised high base price of frequency.

“On the whole, the TRAI recommendations are rather slanted in favour of CDMA and disadvantageous to GSM,” COAI Director General T V Ramchandran said in a statement.

COAI believes that the route of auction and high reserve price would be very harmful for reaching the benefits of 3G in an affordable manner, and that the Government should seek to enhance its revenues for 3G through usage and not by imposing high initial fees. The association also expressed concern over TRAI considering 3G as a standalone service and not treating it as an extension of existing 2G services.

However, COAI welcomed TRAI’s views on efficient management of spectrum and endorsed the idea of formation of National Frequency Management Board (NFMB) to coordinate the availability of spectrum.

Source: ET

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Financial Express states that the CDMA operators will have an 8-9 month head start over GSM players and a significant price and technology advantage in rolling out 3G services from the day of acquiring frequency.

This is largely because CDMA players have been given the option to bid for 3G services on the 800 Mhz spectrum that they already use for their current services. GSM players, on the other hand, have been allocated only 2,100 Mhz spectrum for 3G, which requires them to install fresh equipment and new software.

Existing CDMA2000 base stations can be upgraded to support EvDO (evolution data optimised), or 3G, via a simple channel card upgrade. EvDO requires only moderate upgrade of the core network, according to a report by Signals Research Group, a third party research provider.

CDMA will need fewer towers for operations vis-a-vis the 2100 Mhz, as the propagation characteristics of the 800 Mhz band are more

TRAI recommendations also mean that the price of the 800 Mhz spectrum be one-fourth of the second highest bid for the 2100 Mhz band.

“Worldwide, 3G is deployed in the 800 MHz and 1900 MHz bands. Therefore, the economies of scale in equipment purchase are also in favour of CDMA players. This is not in 2100 Mhz,

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One of the major concerns of operators with TRAI recommendations on 3G spectrum allocations is the Rs 1,400-crore base price that has been set for a PAN India license.

GSM players pointed out that recommendations were near identical to Tata group chairman Ratan Tata’s offer of a Rs 1,500-crore national licence fee for 3G spectrum.

The suggestion had got him into a war of words with Mittal, who did not want any upfront fee for 3G so that services could be affordable. Other major telecom players had also dissociated themselves from Tata’s opinion.

Sunil Mittal of Bharti-Airtel expressed disappointment.

“The Rs 1,400-crore base price is slightly above the Rs 300-400 crore we were expecting. For those interested in countrywide 3G licences, the reserve price is a serious disincentive. Especially, when it comes to rural penetration. We appeal to the DoT to review and seriously lower the threshold recommended,

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Qualcomm has announced the granting of a 3G license to HFCL for the development, manufacture and sale of CDMA2000 handsets and modem cards.

HFCL will manufacture CDMA handsets in its factories in Chennai and Himachal Pradesh. The indigenously manufactured handsets will hit the market by January 2007.

The size of the CDMA handset market is expected to be to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore in India during the current financial year. LG and Samsung are the largest suppliers of CDMA handsets in the country today.

Mahendra Nahata, Chairman, HFCL Group:

“There are currently more than 36 million CDMA subscribers in India and the Indian wireless market has grown ten-fold in less than five years…

“We will manufacture close to 4m handsets during ’07-08 and this will have an impact to the tune of Rs 600 crore to Rs 800 crore on our revenues.

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The dry-run for roll-out of 3G mobile services is finally taking off, as the government has provided low-power spectrum to GSM players BSNL, MTNL, Bharti and Hutch to carry out interface check on a non-commercial basis.

The trial spectrum has been given for one month and is 1/1000 of the actual 3G spectrum capability. It has to be used in a closed campus to see inter-operability of the interface with the existing system and is only for technical demonstration, the official said.

Commenting on why no CDMA player has been provided the spectrum,

Spectrum for carrying out 3G trial has been given to all who had applied under the National Frequency Allocation Plan on the 2.1 Ghz band, a senior Department of Telecom official said.

As far as CDMA players are concerned, while Tata Teleservices had sought 3G trial spectrum, it did not get it. On Reliance Communications, the official said, their case could not be considered as they had sought spectrum on 1900 Mhz band, which did not conform to the NFAP for their CDMA based 3G trials.

But if they (Reliance) ask us for spectrum on the 800 Mhz to carry out trial for EVDO (a version of 3G service for CDMA), we will consider their case, said the source.

Indeed good to see some real movement in the introduction of 3G services.

Source: ET

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ET reports that AXN is looking to stream their programs for mobiles in India. The channel operates AXN Mobile, which streams AXN series on the mobile phones in some countries and is considering to get the same service in India.

AXN may be preparing for the impending 3G launch in India. Video streaming over GPRS networks is not a great experience for the users. Only Reliance has gone in a big way for mobile video streaming and has the largest number of views for the same.

Gregory Ho, VP, advertising sales, SPE Networks -Asia

“AXN mobile is targetted at viewers who are out of home and rely on their mobile phones for entertainment consumption. The number of people who own cellphones is growing in India and hence we are looking at getting it here,

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