| (From left) Craig Ehrlich, chairman of GSM Association, Bharti chief Sunil Mittal, communications minister Dayanidhi Maran and Rob Conway, CEO of GSM Association, in New Delhi on Tuesday. Picture by Rajesh Kumar
New Delhi, June 13: Union communications minister Dayanidhi Maran today said the ministry of defence would release spectrum for the telecom industry by October-November this year.
“The ministry of defence would vacate spectrum by October-November this year,” Maran said while addressing the GSM Association meeting. GSM subscriber base worldwide has touched the 2-billion mark, he added.
At the same meeting, Bharti Airtel’s chairman and managing director Sunil Bharti Mittal pushed for lowering the prices of 3G handsets. “We should try and sell the 3G handset at Rs 5,000 at its launch, and subsequently bring it down to Rs 2,500.”
Yesterday, the GSM Association approved a ‘3G for all’ programme. Mittal said the 3G handsets are likely to be launched by December this year.
Maran favoured charging a price for the spectrum to be released for the industry. “The government has to make some money out of it (3G spectrum). It does not want people to sit over spectrum.”
He said a decision would be taken after Trai releases papers on this issue. The government would allow foreign players to enter the 3G market, he added.
Mittal, however, said, “There is no justification in pricing 3G spectrum. Contrary to perceptions, spectrum is already priced. If we price it, we would kill spectrum even before it is launched.”
Earlier, Maran said the department of telecommunications, along with the ministry of defence, had already taken up a Rs 1,000-crore project to release 45 MHz of spectrum.
In India, out of the total 100 million mobile connections, over 75.3 million use GSM phones and 24.7 million CDMA handsets. More than 250 million subscribers use the CDMA technology worldwide.