Airtel to launch 3G services by year-end

Country's leading telecom service provider Bharti Airtel will launch the 3G services by the year-end.

"Our core network is 3G ready, billing, application and content ready. Once bids are through services will take six to eight months after that," Bharti Airtel CEO (India and South Asia) Sanjay Kapoor said while launching a HTC smartphone exclusively on Airtel network.

The auction for 3G spectrum is scheduled to take place on April 9, 2010. But as per the Department of Telecom (DoT) guidelines, operators can only start commercial launch post September 1, 2010. By this consideration, Bharti should be able to start services from October onwards.

Bharti Airtel had put in bids for both 3G and BWA spectrum. Besides, Bharti mostly all the major service providers have also put in their bids.

Vodafone, RCom, Tatas, Idea Cellular have also bid for both 3G as well as BWA spectrum. While Etisalat and Videocon have bid for 3G spectrum only, US-based chip maker Qualcomm, HFCL, Tikona and Spice are understood to have put in their applications for BWA.

The government has fixed Rs 3,500 crore as reserve price for pan-India 3G spectrum and Rs 1,750 crore for Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) services.

However, the bid price may go quite high as the number of operators in the fray far outweighs the number of slots available in both the services.

The government will be selling spectrum to three players across the nation with exception of a few states where four slots will be on offer.

The 3G mobile services will allow high-speed content download and broadband services.

Airtel, which has a subscriber base of 124.6 million, has already have devices which are 3G ready.

The telco earlier this month had reached a deal with Apple Inc to sell the iPhone 3GS in India.

Besides, it has launched HTC Smart phone priced at Rs 9,990 in partnership with HTC.

-- PTI