New Delhi, Aug 28 : Telecom Minister A Raja today said the auction process for 3G spectrum would be completed by October-end and services could start by this year itself.
"The spectrum auction process would be end by October and I want the operators to roll out their 3G services within this year," Raja said.
Sources said BSNL and MTNL, who are in the midst of launching pilots for 3G, would launch the high-end services by the end of this year.
Government has announced the guidelines for the auction of 3G (third generation) spectrum, allowing foreign bidders to participate, who have experience in offering 3G services. It will allot spectrum in the 2.1GHz band for 3G services to GSM players.
The policy allows foreign investors to participate in the bid.
Government was in favor of a global bid so that it could raise more money from the auction of the spectrum and also to introduce competition in the market.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) argued that existing players already had the infrastructure to offer 3G services, fast and at an incremental cost to customers.
Government has thrown open the bid to current mobile service providers holding an Unified Access Service License (UASL), and to any bidder who qualifies for an UASL in India, having experience in 3G services, according to guidelines issued by the Ministry of Communications.
Foreign bidders fall under the second category, and will have to comply with current UASL rules limiting foreign investment in mobile services companies to 74 per cent of the total equity.