India has finally confirmed a start date for the auctioning of 3G WCDMA licenses, announcing a timeframe of December 7 this year. Operator applicants must submit interest in participating by November 13, according to a statement on the country’s Department of Telecommunications’ website. Successful bidders must pay for the licenses within 15 days of the end of the auction. In addition, the government plans to conduct an auction for 3G licenses based on the CDMA EV-DO standard just two days after the closure of the 3G WCDMA auction. At the same time an auction will also begin for licenses to launch services based on Broadband Wireless Access (eg WiMAX) technology.

The auction of 3G spectrum in the world’s second-largest (and fastest-growing major) mobile market has been delayed several times after a planned start date of last January. State-owned mobile operators BSNL and MTNL have already begun 3G network rollout, though both will eventually be required to pay a license fee equivalent to the highest price paid in the private auction. Last month, the base price for pan-India 3G spectrum was revised by a ministerial panel to INR35 billion (US$722 million) from INR20.20 billion.