Monday, November 29, 1999

Bids for one all-India 3G licence hit $3.5 bln

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Bids for one set of nationwide third-generation (3G) mobile spectrum licences reached 158.14 billion rupees ($3.5 billion) on the 31st day of an auction, an indication the government could earn revenue of about 639 billion rupees from the auction.As of Saturday, 172 rounds of bidding had been completed, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said on its website.Nine mobile operators, including Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications and Vodafone's Indian unit, are participating in the auction.Bidding for the 3G spectrum, which would allow firms to offer high-speed Internet and other premium services such as video calling on mobile phones, started on April 9.Telecom Minister Andimuthu Raja said on Friday the auction is expected to conclude in a few days.The base price for one set of pan-India licences was set at 35 billion rupees.The government will sell four such licences -- three from the auction and one set to state-run telecoms firms which would have to match the highest bid price paid by the private operators-- plus one extra licence each in five of the 22 telecom zones.(Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)
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