India Wimax delays costing $3b a year, says business group

Delays allocating Wimax spectrum is costing India's communications industry billions of dollars in annual lost revenue, a trade group has warned.

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) last week said that the delay allocating Wimax spectrum was costing the telecom industry $3 billion per year.

ASSOCHAM and Wimax forum have both demanded the release of early Wimax spectrum. Only state-owned operator BSNL has been allocated Wimax spectrum.

ASSOCHAM called on the government to strip the extra import duty on Wimax-embedded devices such as netbooks and laptops, and demanded that homegrown Wimax CPEs be exempted from sales and excise duty for at least three years.

In the latest twist in India's tortuous path to 3G, the Department of Telecom (DoT) last week rejected a finance ministry proposal to settle the deadlock over the spectrum auction, which was initially scheduled for January 16.

The government is having difficulty freeing up enough 3G spectrum in nine of India's 22 telecom circles. To rectify this, the finance ministry suggested adding winning bidders to a waiting list to be allocated spectrum when it becomes available.

But the DoT has rejected this proposal, the Economic Times said, and has also decided that once the auctions take place, no new spectrum will be allocated for at least 12 months.