Within a week of the government announcing plans to auction spectrum for 3G mobile services, India's largest private cellular operator Bharti Airtel on Wednesday said it will launch the service by October next year.
"If everything goes well on time with regard to spectrum auction, by February or March we will have spectrum allocation. By next Diwali (2010), we will have commercial launch of 3G services in India," Bharti Airtel CEO Manoj Kohli said on the sidelines of a function organised by Qualcom in New Delhi.
The government has fixed Rs 3,500 crore (Rs 35 billion) as the base price for pan-India 3G spectrum and the auction for the same is expected to be completed by November.
Bharti has already announced its decision to participate in the 3G process.
Asked about the development on Bharti's proposed $23 billion deal with MTN, Kohli said the process is on and declined to answer.
Asked if Airtel anticipates by September 30 the entire issue will be resolved, he said, "Let's wait." Airtel and MTN are exploring an alliance and are in exclusive talks to work out for deal.
As per the original scheme of arrangement, Bharti will acquire 49 per cent in MTN whereas MTN and its shareholders will get 36 per cent economic interest in Airtel.
The alliance if happened will create a $23 billion revenue entity with over 200 million subscribers.