3G Disaster in India

Just when one thinks things cannot get any worse in India’s telecom sector, our government makes the unbelievable happen.

We should have had 3G services in India 3-4 years ago. But we took a detour to giving more 2.5G licences since that could enrich the powers that make decisions by a few billion dollars. In addition, since one can only make money from auctions before they actually happen since money can be taken for skewing the rules, there is little reason to hurry the 3G auction along.  So, we wait. The latest we hear is that the Defence department will only release spectrum later this year, so the auction will take place sometime next year, with services rollout in the second half of 2011. And to top it all, TRAI goes about wanting to publish a consultation paper on 4G!

Of course,  the government owned telcos (BSNL and MTNL) have been offering 3G services for the past many months – and we have barely noticed.

India could have led the world in mobile data, and India’s companies could have been on the forefront of innovation. But who thinks of the world beyond themselves in our government. It is still not too late. I hope better sense prevails and we can get the 3G auctions done quickly with services launched before end of the year.

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