India wants CDMA in 3G auction

India has decided to auction CDMA licences for 3G services, a change in policy that means Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices will have to bid for spectrum they were previously guaranteed of getting, a Reuters report said, quoting a government official.

The Reuters report also quoted telecom minister Andimuthu Raja saying 'now, one more operator has been permitted. So again we consulted the TRAI and took a decision that it can also be auctioned.'

No. 2 mobile operator Reliance Communications and sixth-ranked Tata Teleservices are the only operators with major CDMA operations in India, where the GSM platform dominates.

At the start of August, the government announced plans for a global auction of 3G licences.

At the time only two CDMA licences were thought to be available, so the plan was that Reliance and Tata would pay a pro-rata price based on the outcome of the GSM auction, Raja also said.

The government has said the global auction for GSM 3G spectrum would end by December. Current Indian telecoms operators and foreign firms with prior experience in 3G services are eligible to bid.

Reliance Communications has some GSM subscribers, and is expanding its network, but at present more than 80% of its customers are on the CDMA platform.

Tata Teleservices has acquired licences for second-generation GSM mobile, but is yet to start services.