Regulators in India this week began consultations on migration towards so-called 4G technologies such as LTE in the hope of avoiding the delays that have afflicted the country’s rollout of 3G. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has invited comments from the industry on the matter prior to publishing a formal consultation paper next month, which is likely to address areas such as spectrum licensing. “We are starting the process and would come out with a consultation paper to look into various issues relating to 4G telecom services,” TRAI Chairman J S Sarma told reporters this week reports India’s Business Standard. “3G has been delayed badly… I don’t want 4G or Long-Term Evolution [LTE] to meet the same fate. Other countries are catching up with 4G and that is why we are taking advance action.”

The 3G spectrum auctions in India have been delayed by around three years due to a myriad of issues, including the starting price of bandwidth and the number of slots to be sold. The auction process is currently scheduled to begin on 1 April, the beginning of the next fiscal year. But Sarma said that the focus on 4G does mean that TRAI is looking to leapfrog 3G in the wake of the delays, noting only that India should be “technologically ready” for future migrations. The eventual auction of the 3G spectrum is expected to fetch the Indian government about INR250 billion (US$5.3 billion).