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4G spectrum auction to follow close on heels of 3G allocation
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Even as the auction for 3G spectrum is still on, the government has begun work on 4G spectrum. Auction for 4G spectrum will begin as soon as operators roll out their 3G network, Communications Minister A. Raja told Hindustan Times on Tuesday.

4G is a progression of 3G technology. 4G networks allow users to stream mobile multimedia such as TV broadcasts and online games with speeds up to 10 times greater than those possible on 3G networks.

A speed of up to 8 Mbps is theoretically possible in 3G, while the existing 2G networks offer a maximum speed of 144 kbps.

“We have already delayed the auction of 3G spectrum due to various reasons that were beyond my control,” Raja said. “I do not want any delay in 4G services. We should be with rest of the world in 4G.”

Raja expects that telecom operators would start rolling out their 3G networks within a few weeks of getting spectrum. “Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has already started pre-consultation process of 4G spectrum auction,” Raja said. “Once TRAI submits its recommendations, the government will work on it.”

The process for 3G auction is underway in India and the momentum has started picking up. At the end of day 3, the price for pan-India, 5-megahertz (MHz), 3G spectrum had reached Rs 4,324 crore ($940 million). This is 24 per cent higher than the reserve price of Rs 3,500 crore ($760 million).

The Indian government is also auctioning two blocks of 2.6 gigahertz band under Broadband Wireless Access (BWA). The auction will take place two days after the auction process for 3G spectrum gets completed.

On Monday, Germany started the auction of its 4G spectrum, 10 years after auctioning 3G spectrum. This is the first large scale auction of 4G spectrum in Europe and is supposed to set a benchmark for other countries.

The German government is selling 360 megahertz of spectrum in 4 different bands, divided into 41 spectrum blocks. This includes spectrum in the 800 MHz and 2.6 gigahertz bands as both bands are set to be the standard for fourth generation.

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