October 15, 2008 / 12:12 PM / 11 years ago

India to review market conditions for 3G auction

NEW DELHI, Oct 15 (Reuters) - India plans to review market conditions for a planned auction of radio waves for next generation wireless services, but hopes to start on schedule by December, the telecoms minister said on Wednesday.

“I have to discuss with the finance minister whether the atmosphere prevailing right now is conducive for an auction,” Andimuthu Raja told reporters, when asked whether it was the right time for the auction.

“But we are not slowing down any action, it is going on,” he said.

India plans to hold a global auction of radio spectrum for third-and fourth-generation (3G and 4G) wireless services simultaneously by December, from which it hopes to raise up to 400 billion rupees ($8.2 billion).

The government has appointed U.S. bank Rothschild to conduct the auction, which is expected to see interests from both local and foreign firms.

India is the world’s fastest growing mobile services market, with new additions each month running at more than 9 million.

There were 305 million wireless subscribers at the end of August, behind only China’s about 600 million, with the growth potential seen large as only 28 out of 100 Indians own a mobile phone.

Asked about a report in the Economic Times newspaper on Wednesday the government was considering relaxing guidelines to allow winning bidders to pay in instalments because of the global liquidity crunch, Raja said there was no such proposal.

“Right now... there is no move to delay nor to give the option of partial payments,” he said.

However, he said the government would discuss the financial crisis and any change in the mode of payment would have to be discussed with the prime minister and the finance minister. ($1=48.5 rupees) (Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Ranjit Gangadharan)

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