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India's mobile subscribers best served by a harmonised approach to 3G licensing, urges UMTS Forum Chairman at India Telecom 2006 PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 19 December 2006
With India expected to confirm plans for the allocation of spectrum for 3G and broadband wireless access in 2007, UMTS Forum has urged India's government to maintain technology neutrality in its forthcoming 3G licensing process

Addressing an audience at the recent India Telecom event in New Delhi, UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaim encouraged India's administrations to follow the successful example of other regions and respect the need for harmonised 3G spectrum:

"The ultimate interests of Indian consumers are best served by opening the door to IMT-2000 technologies within ITU harmonised spectrum band allocations. This can be best achieved by adhering to the WARC-92 band plan for IMT-2000/3G networks while safeguarding frequencies in the 2GHz band against the potentially detrimental effect of mixed band plans."

Equitable spectrum - and not necessarily equal spectrum, added Bienaim - should be allocated between technologies according to market share and spectrum efficiency. Warning against the often detrimental effect of spectrum auctions on operators' balance sheets, the UMTS Forum Chairman also urged for the imposition of realistic roll-out obligations for Indian operators which will enable the timely introduction of 3G/UMTS services for benefit of Indian consumers and business users. He also highlighted the potential for network sharing to reduce rollout costs for India's 3G operators.

"It's our recommendation that 3G/IMT-2000 spectrum in the 2GHz region is released to India's mobile operators in due time to keep pace with 3G/UMTS developments in the rest of the world', commented Bienaim. "Moreover, core spectrum at 2GHz as well as additional frequencies at 800MHz should be released simultaneously."

It is predicted that there will be as many as half a billion mobile phone subscriptions by 2010 in India, with 80 million of these representing rural connections. In this timeframe, 3G/UMTS - and its evolutions including HSPA - will serve as a valuable tool to provide cost-effective mobile broadband coverage in rural areas, while simultaneously alleviating future capacity constraints in densely populated urban areas.

"Building on the foundations of more than 80 Indian GSM networks, 3G/UMTS offers an exciting opportunity for operators to provide innovative services, especially to the subcontinent's increasingly young, affluent and IT-literate urban population", added Bienaim. "As the world's second largest growth economy with rapidly rising income levels, India stands to gain enormously from a wide range of broadband mobile services from internet access to mobile TV. 3G/UMTS also offers vast potential to open the door to new social initiatives ranging from telemedicine and distance learning in rural schools to e-government."

The UMTS Forum Chairman also participated in a CEOs Roundtable event hosted at India Telecom, where senior executives of Indian and global operators, manufacturers and trade associations gave their views on the way forward for India's mobile industry. Addressing an audience that included Shri Nripendra Misra, Chairman of TRAI and Shri D S Mathur, Secretary of DoT, the Honourable Minister for Communications & IT, Shri Dayanidhi Maran, outlined his vision for communications in India up to the year 2010.

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