India plans to complete global 3G spectrum auction in January

NEW DELHI, October 21, 2008 (AFP) – India said Tuesday its planned global auction for airwaves to offer high-speed third generation mobile phone services will likely be completed by mid-January. The auction of 3G phone spectrum could spur greater growth in the world’s fastest-expanding mobile market, which has been adding eight million new subscribers monthly, and reap the government hundreds of millions of dollars.

“The 3G auction will be completed by January 15 and the operators would have to pay up by January 31,” Communications Minister Andimuthu Raja told reporters after saying two months ago the auction would be held by December.

He said holiday schedules had slightly affected the auction process.

The department of telecommunications had earlier hinted the auction could be delayed due to the global financial crisis that might reduce the number of foreign participants.

Asked whether the financial situation was conducive for the auction, Raja replied discussions would be held if there were any concerns.

Before the financial turmoil erupted, leading Indian business lobby FICCI forecast the 3G policy would draw investments of eight to 10 billion dollars over th