Over eight years after third generation (3G) mobile technology made its commercial debut in Japan, Indian phone users got only a taste of official flip-flop on roll-out of the service during 2009 that also saw CBI raiding telecom ministry over spectrum allocation. As for the mobile users, whose numbers swelled to more than 500 million for the first time, they got the option of paying for calls on per second usage basis instead of the fixed one minute call.
As much as the falling tariffs delighted consumers, the CBI raid on Telecom Minister A Raja's office dampened spirits at the Department of Telecom. The result is many crucial decisions like implementation of Mobile Number Portability, policy on spectrum allotment for expansion of services and even 3G mobile telephony were either relegated to the back-seat or delayed inordinately.
Despite severe inter-ministerial (Ministry of Telecom and Ministry of Defence) differences over vacation of spectrum (airwaves used for transmitting voice and data), the government ended the year with the promise of auctioning 3G spectrum as per schedule on January 14, next year.
Although it appears to be a daunting task, the government's determination, especially Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's resolve to mop up funds to bridge fiscal deficit, looks to make this auction possible, although many other countries have moved to the next level of mobile technology.
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