WiMAX and 3G in India delayed again!

The sorry saga of WiMAX in India continues.  We think India is vitally important to the health of the mobile WiMAX industry as it is potentially the largest emerging market for that technology.   China has shown no interest in WiMAX  and is pursuing their homegrown 3G technology instead.   So that leaves India as the kingpin for WiMAX deployment in developing markets.

For background info, please refer to:   http://viodi.com/2008/08/11/wimax-in-india/

It seems we’ve been duped again.  Having been told by the Indian government that the much anticipated auctions for 3G and Broadband Wireless Access (e.g. WiMAX) licences were imminent, we now hear that they have been delayed further.  In fact, they may now not take place until early 2009 (but don’t bet on it).

India’s IT and Telecom minister, A Raja has already announced the delay in the 3G auction process due to some strange reasons such as December being too full of holidays.  We met Mr Raja in March 2008 (Tamil Manram arranged dinner meeting with the "Honorable Minister for Communication and Information Technology" at the India Community Center in Mipitas, CA). At the time, Mr Raja (who spoke mostly in Tamil) was not very enthusiastic about WiMAX and did not even mention it in his prepared remarks.  It was only as a result of my question that he forecast the number of WiMAX subscribers expected by 2010, which was reported on it in Viodi View:   


The hold up now appears to be a result of the Indian government failing to clear the relevant radio spectrum in nine circles, or operating regions, out of India’s total of 22 such regions.  Apparently, there are issues of getting the spectrum cleared from defense services using the 1920-1980MHz band, which was to be auctioned off.  The Indian defence forces have yet to vacate their spectrum for commercial use in nine circles:  Delhi, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat, East Uttar Pradesh and West Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, North East and West Bengal.  Will they do this by year’s end to clear the path for an early 2009 auction?  Don’t hold your breath.

For more on this topic, please refer to the following articles:




For WiMAX in India, we are now are compelled to ask:  Can you believe what the Indian government says about the timing of the auctions?   What do you think?  Please comment below.


0 thoughts on “WiMAX and 3G in India delayed again!

  1. Indian govt suffered heavy losses as Unitech Wireless paid Rs. 1621 crores to the government for the licence and spectrum and the company has been valued at Rs. 11,620. This means that the licence/spectrum has been valued at an astronomical value of Rs. 11,620 crores. In ten months, Unitech had made a profit of Rs. 9,999 crores

  2. Thank you for your comment. Could you kindly elaborate how Unitech Wireless made a profit by paying for the license. Did they resell it for a much higher price? How did the Indian govt lose so much money? I thought the licenses were not auctioned yet. Please explain.

  3. You evidently can NOT believe the Indian government!

    Here is the latest on this from Business Week:

    India’s long-awaited 3G and Wimax auctions may be delayed yet again, as the government considers doubling the floor price for prospective licensees


    I have written a lot of articles about India’s plans for WiMAX and 3G technologies in 2009. But the enormous potential has yet to be realized because of repeated bureaucratic bungling. How could the Indian government be so incompetent and irresponsible?

    I was not the only one disappointed in the auctions being delayed yet again. Here we go again January 9th, 2009:

    “If only India could enjoy the kind of 3G licence expediency so readily apparent in China. There’s been another delay in India, with January 30th now believed to be the next date from which licence allocation will be postponed. This week India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) rejected a proposal from the country’s finance ministry to double the reserve price for a national 3G licence. DoT felt this could risk damaging enthusiasm among foreign investors and result in higher prices to end users. However, the final decision rests with the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. So we’ll have to wait and see.”


  4. Indian columnists do not agree with current terms and conditions of India’s upcoming spectrum auction:

    Is it for India?
    The 3G-WiMax spectrum auction is happening at a time when the global economy is in doldrums. It does not make sense for India to go ahead with the current format of spectrum auction considering the subscriber base available in other countries

    If the 3G and WiMax spectrum auctions happen in the current fiscal, they would see operators grabbing the opportunity to bid for the much needed bandwidth. But is 3G and WiMax indispensable for India? Have their services revolutionized the markets where they have been launched? Not really.


  5. India may be next WiMAX mecca


    “India is slated to become the largest WiMAX market in the Asia-Pacific by 2013. A recent study sees India’s WiMAX subscriber base hitting 14 million by Year 2013 and grow annually at nearly 130%. What’s more, initial investment in WiMAX ventures is slated to top $500 mn in India, notes the report conducted by US-based research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics.”

  6. India’s 3G, WiMax rollout may be pushed to 2010

    Although Telecommunication Minister A. Raja this week said it is possible to hold auctions for India’s 3G spectrum by Mar. 31, experts doubt the current government will proceed with haste in this realm.

    Don’t hold your breath. I heard Minister Raja talk when he was at the India Center in Milpitas, CA. I was not at all impressed!

    http://www.zdnetasia.com/news/communications/0,39044192,62051318,00…13 minutes left to edit your comment.

  7. Maravedis and Tonse Predict WiMAX Subscribers in India to Exceed 13 Million by 2013
    Leading research firms Maravedis and Tonse Telecom release 3rd edition of the “India Wireless Broadband and WiMAX Market Analysis and Forecasts, 2009-2013” report

    MONTREAL, Canada, and BANGALORE, India, April 28, 2009 – Deployment of 3G and WiMAX streams will generate a reasonable user base over the next 5 year period, before noticeable LTE deployments begin to make an impact in India, according to the latest research by Maravedis, who in partnership with leading Indian telecom market research and analysis firm Tonse Telecom today released the 3rd Edition of “India Wireless Broadband and WiMAX Market Analysis and Forecasts, 2009-2013.”

    “Despite delayed spectrum auctions that are impeding a tremendous economic driver, 3G/BWA/WiMAX network activity is already on a roll,” said Sridhar Pai, co-author of the report and Tonse Telecom CEO. “For the severely underserved Indian broadband market, demand for wireless broadband connectivity continues across all sectors: retail, SOHO, SMEs and large enterprises alike,” he continued.

    According to the report, the big push will be seen post-spectrum auctions. “However, aided by pre-allocation in the 2.5GHz band, incumbents are already developing massive national rollout plans for both 3G and WiMAX. Expect significant pan-India deployments from other successful auction bidders,” said Maravedis CEO Adlane Fellah.

    While the global economy is lying dormant, demand for telecommunications services in India continues to fuel significant growth in the sector. “We estimate that in 2008, approximately 10,000 BWA/WiMAX base station sectors were deployed in total. Currently there are about 300,000 BWA/WiMAX subscribers already using these services,” Pai noted.

    “Wireless CAPEX has already reached US$ sub-100 levels per line, thereby confirming the primary transport technology will be wireless,” added Fellah.

    Key Findings:

    Internet access is still the big broadband driver in India, with wireless broadband becoming the clear option owing to economics and ease of deployment.
    BWA operators have yet to resolve many service quality issues.
    India is expected to see the world’s lowest end-to-end cost for WiMAX services, with costs driven down faster than in any other market.
    Computer penetration is still very low and the Indian telecom sector operates in a volume-driven market.
    Innovative business models such as public-private partnerships will emerge, together with low cost devices and a vibrant ecosystem.

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