Google looks for 3G prospects in India
Bangalore: Google seems to be eyeing opportunities in the third generation (3G) of mobile telephony in India. The search engine giant is likely to participate in the auction with an Indian partner. Sources in the telecom industry say that Google is eyeing at broadband wireless access (BWA) in the country. BWA is also known as Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX). As an alternative, Google could be just a technology partner to a telecom service provider. Foreign companies can buy up to 74 percent equity in such a venture. This is not the first time that Google is planning to enter into mobile telephony. It shook the world two years ago by announcing that it would bid for the U.S. government's auction of radio frequencies that could be used to deliver the next generation internet and mobile phone services. The company's plan was to provide a nationwide wireless broadband service that would take on digital subscriber line services and cable internet access. However, it lost out in the auction as incumbent telecom behemoths like AT&T and Verizon stole a march. Analysts say that there are many reasons for Google to look at 3G. "With the wave of consumers adopting BWA as the likely scenario in India, it is expected to bring about a shift in the focus of advertisement revenue from fixed line internet to mobile internet. Search-led advertisement is the biggest of all in the online business, and Google is the natural stakeholder in the Indian BWA space," says Alok Shende, Principal Analyst, Ascentius Consulting. Google has also submitted a proposal to regulators in the U.S. for clearance to use and unused channels, which the company calls Wi-Fi 2.0, and on which it is possible to offer wireless broadband services at very high speeds. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is offering spectrum both for 3G services as well as BWA and hopes to auction spectrum by the middle of January next year. It finalized the information memorandum last week. The BWA spectrum to be put up for auction by DoT will be in the frequency of 2.3 GHz, with a base price of 1,750 crore for a pan-India licence. The government will auction two blocks in BWA spectrum and reserve one for state-owned Mahanagar Telephone Nigam in Mumbai and Delhi and Bharat Sanchar Nigam elsewhere. A spokesperson for Google in India, when contacted, said that the company would not comment on speculation.