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'BWA auction might be an even bigger success than 3G'
Internet service providers believe that Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) auctions might bring in close to Rs 50,000 crore for the government of India. BWA is a new internet technology that allows for fast data transfer speeds. They say that the spectrum on auction is four times that of 3G at 20 MHz compared to the 5 MHz of 3G.

Speaking to reporters at an event here, Rajesh Chharia, president, Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI), said, "I won't be surprised if the auction price touches Rs 50,000 crore".

Deepinder Singh Bedi, executive director, Tulip Telecom, also expressed a similar opinion. He said, "With 20 MHz at stake, prices might be way higher than expected. I won't be surprised at any price.” Chharia further said that since the spectrum band is much bigger, the opportunity to provide multiple services would mean that service providers will not want to miss this opportunity. He added, "Don't forget Qualcomm is also bidding for BWA and they would do anything to promote their technology.”

Further, with new guidelines that remove the ‘data only’ services condition, service providers will very likely want to provide other services as well. Services such as IPTV and internet are growing in popularity, and with current usage being very low, such services are expected to grow rapidly for a long time, making them attractive businesses to invest in.

Service providers are likely to bid for select circles only, an approach which was adopted in the 3G auction process. There are 11 bidders in the fray, including Qualcomm, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications, which are expected to be the biggest bidders.

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