India postpones auction of 3G spectrum

India has postponed to Jan. 30, 2009, the auction of 3G spectrum to give potential bidders more time to study bid documents and rules for the auction, a government agency said Tuesday.

Potential bidders requested an extension from the originally scheduled date of Jan. 16, according to India's Ministry of Communications. The final date for applications to bid in the auction also has been extended to Jan. 15 from the earlier Jan. 5, it said.

An auction of spectrum for broadband wireless is scheduled to be held two days after the close of the 3G spectrum auction. The auction for 3G spectrum is likely to be hotly contested by both Indian and foreign companies.

India's mobile market is booming, adding over 10 million new users a month, even as the global economic downturn affects demand in the country for other products and services, including PCs.

"The mobile phone is now seen as a necessity," said Kapil Dev Singh, country manager at research firm IDC India.

Winning a 3G license will also enable bidders to get 2G spectrum to offer services, the government has indicated. While 3G is not expected to be a revenue spinner immediately, the market for 2G services has already been opened by existing players, analysts said.