In what would came as a major relief for the telecom operators, the government said on Wednesday that the security related issues that were impacting the launch of third generation (3G) services were nearly resolved and it would soon issue new guidelines in this context.
‘3G issue is almost resolved. Soon you will have new guidelines that will resolve the matter,’ said the communications and IT minister Kapil Sibal. On Tuesday, union home minister P Chidambaram too had stated that while the telecom service providers needed to work out the modalities to provide interception facilities to the security agencies, it would not lead to much delay in launch of services and telcos could be allowed to rollout 3G services while interception process was still being put in place.
The department of telecommunications (DoT) had earlier asked telecom operators to defer the launch of the GenNext mobile services that are enabled with the 3G spectrum, including video calling and high speed mobile internet, until a suitable system of real time interception was found. While operators did provide interception, the same was not real time but with a lag, which was not acceptable to the security establishments.
The private operators and state run companies together paid Rs 67,000 crore to the government for 3G airwaves after an auction held in May 2010. In addition, companies have spent several hundreds of crores on erecting the infrastructure required for implementing the 3G architecture. In this wake, any delay in launch of services will hit the telecom operators hard and further worsen the financials which are already under stress owing to squeezing margins.