Thursday, January 06, 2011

3G Rollout Will See Telcos Working Together To Maximize Coverage

In India’s almost cut throat telecom sector it isn’t very often you see too many Telecom companies working together. All thanks to the 3G spectrum auction, now they pretty much do not have a choice. Of the 6 private companies that participated no one was able to secure a pan India 3G license. And only 2 have already started 3G services – Tata and Reliance, while Airtel, which was earlier targeting Dec ‘10 has had to delay its rollout.

Now of the 22 telecom circles. Airtel, Reliance and Aircel have spectrum in 13. Idea in 11. Tata and Vodafone in 9. So there is bound to be a fair amount of wheeling and dealing happening behind the scenes. ET, this morning reported some of these.

Between Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular, they have spectrum in all circles except Orissa and are said to be in the final stages of coming to an agreement. The three also jointly own Indus Tower, one of the world’s largest telecom infrastructure companies.

Reliance Communications is reported to be in talks with 3 other operators for a roaming alliance, according to an executive who also said that an announcement would be made soon.

Aircel and Tata Teleservices, who together cover all circles other than Delhi, Mumbai and Himchal Pradesh are also said to be in talks for Pan India 3G coverage. They are likely to partner with state owned and operate MTNL for coverage in Mumbai and Delhi circles. Tata Teleservices and BSNL may also be in talks for a 3G roaming deal. The article quoted BSNL’s acting CMD Gopal Das as saying that they would invite bids from private operators to share their airwaves. It also estimated that state owned telcos could raise between Rs.2500 crore and Rs.5000 crore over a 5 year period by sharing their 3G spectrum.

Only 2 of the 6 have begun 3G services and though it isn’t clear exactly when the others will start their operations, there is buzz over the last few days on twitter about some telcos testing their 3G services. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait for too much longer.

How much longer do you think it will take before we have 3G all over the country?

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