12 Dec 2008, 0038 hrs IST, Shalini Singh, TNN
NEW DELHI: India entered the third generation mobile era on Thursday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launching the country's first 3G network by receiving an inaugural video call and viewing live television on a 3G-enabled mobile handset.
The call was made using the MTNL network at the inauguration of India Telecom 2008 ^ a global telecom conference organized by Ficci. “This marks a paradigm shift in the use of mobile phones. With up to 2 Mbps capacity, consumers can make video calls, view live television, get video surveillance of their homes or offices on their handsets and, of course, access email speedily on the move,'' R S P Sinha, MTNL's CMD said.
After the debut of 3G services in Delhi, India can look forward to a host of such enhanced and value added services across the country before the end of 2009. It is expected that 3G services will be available early next year in Mumbai and later in Chennai.
Telecom minister A Raja, minister of state Jyotiraditya Scindia, and Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP and Ficci president, were present when the inaugural 3G call was made.
According to department of telecom sources, information on auction of 3G spectrum to private players for up to four licences per circle will be released on Friday. However, in seven of the 22 telecom circles, spectrum shortage could reduce the number of 3G licences available for the auction which is scheduled to be held by the end of January 2009.
In the run up to the auctions, DoT will hold an investor conference before the end of December. Subsequently, in mid January, mock auctions will also be held a few days before the actual 3G auctions are conducted.
The government has allowed BSNL and MTNL an edge in 3G services by allocating 5 MHz of spectrum in the 2.1 GHz band to them ahead of private players. This may uniquely position BSNL and MTNL to lead the 3G launch across the nation as early as mid-2009.
At present, India has over 330 million mobile subscribers, projected to swell to 650 million by 2012. Spectrum is a vital input for ensuring such massive growth and 3G spectrum will play a critical role as India moves from the current subscriber base to nearly double this figure in the next four years.
It has taken 12 years to add roughly 330 million mobile users but will take only four more years to double this number with 8 to 10 million new subscribers added every month.
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