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‘3G auction completion takes India a step forward’

New Delhi, May 19 (IANS) The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) Wednesday said the conclusion of auction for spectrum for third generation (3G) telecom services takes India’s telecom sector a step forward.

‘The conclusion of 3G auction adds to the success of India’s telecom sector and its growth story and takes it a step forward. We are happy that it has concluded in the estimated time,’ COAI director general Rajan S. Mathews told IANS.

However, he expressed concerns over the likely concessions to be given to the state-run Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd for 3G.

‘If they (MTNL and BSNL) are given some concessions, the private players should also be given relaxations for the huge amount they have to shell out for 3G,’ he said.

The COAI represents the GSM-based service providers in India.

The 3G auction, that concluded Wednesday, fetched Rs.67,718.95 crore ($15 billion) for the Indian government.

Slots for three-four players were available in the 22 circles into which the country was divided for 3G services that facilitate faster connectivity and applications such as Internet TV, video-on-demand, audio-video calls and high-speed data exchange.

Nine companies — Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices, Aircel, Etisalat, S Tel and Videocon Telecommunications — took part in the online auction that started April 9.

Among them, Etisalat and Videocon could not win a single circle.

BSNL and MTNL, which have already been issued airwaves, will also have to pay the winner’s price.

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