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Policy on spectrum allocation early next year — Govt wants new players for 3G services

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The Minister for IT and Communications, Mr Dayanidhi Maran, flanked by Mr Jim Goodnight, CEO, SAS, US, and Mr Sunil Bharti Mittal, Group Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, at the India Economic Summit 2005 in the Capital on Tuesday. — Kamal Narang

New Delhi , Nov 29

THE Communications and IT Minister, Mr Dayanidhi Maran, has said that the Government is keen on new players for third generation (3G) services and will spell out the policy for spectrum allocation early next year. Third generation mobile services will bring in high-speed data on cellular handsets, enabling users to watch live TV or movie.

Speaking on the sidelines of the India Economic Summit 2005, Mr Maran said, "When I visited Europe and UK, I found that new entrants, who are not at all offering second generation services, making investments in 3G. In 3G, we should make sure that new entrants come into the field, invest a lot of money in India and ensure prices are competitive because consumers should benefit from it. The idea behind allowing 74 per cent FDI in telecom is precisely for attracting more investments into the country."

Some operators have even suggested an entry fee for 3G services.

Mr Maran said the Government would come out with the spectrum policy in the first quarter of 2006. "When we open the 3G spectrum, we need new companies to come into the sector; 3G is a value-added service. We need players to offer value-added service at competitive pricing, not compromising voice," Mr Maran said.

On the issue of unbundling the last-mile owned by the public sector Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd for use by private operators, Mr Maran said that countries in Europe that had decided to unbundle the national network were rolling back the policy. "I feel no necessity to unbundle at this moment. BSNL and MTNL are doing a good job by themselves in rolling out broadband services."

The draft telecom policy prepared by the Department of Telecommunications and the regulator had suggested unbundling BSNL's network for faster Internet penetration. The Minister also urged private operators to build their own networks instead of seeking to ride on the State-owned company's network, which has been rolled out even in the villages.

Mr Maran said that the Government had already taken measures to introduce India One tariff and was in the process of asking the telecom regulator to make the Access Deficit Charge a revenue share instead of the current system of loading it on every telephone call.

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