The move gives the two state-run telecom companies a headstart over rivals, as the 3G auction has now been deferred until the group of ministers take a call on the nitty-gritties of the auction process.
Even once details of the 3G auction are cleared, it would take at least six to eight months for the private telecom operators to roll out 3G services, clearly giving the state-run companies a year before their competitors enter the market. BSNL has invested Rs 2,700 crore to roll out 3G services. The services essentially provide for faster download of data, Internet downloads and high speed gaming.
The two telecom companies were allotted 3G spectrum ahead of the auction as the government exempted them from participating in auctions and making them only to pay the highest bid amount later to tide over the procedural delays PSU firms are subject to.
On Friday, BSNL launched the services in Agra, Ambala,
Jalandhar, Jaipur, Dehra Dun, Ranchi, Shimla, Lucknow, Durgapur, Haldia, Patna and made a soft launch in Jammu.
The company also announced its tariff plans.In a Rs 2,500 plan, a rate of Re 1 per minute for video call has been fixed. The voice call would be available for 10 paise per minute under monthly rental plan of Rs 1,000.