BSNL to provide 3G in 760 towns; ITI may bid

State-run telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd plans to provide third generation mobile services in 760 cities in the first phase with an initial investment of Rs2,700 crore.

''BSNL has already launched 3G services in 111 cities till date as part of first phase,'' minister of state for telecommunications Gurudas Kamat told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply. The first phase of rollout will be completed by 2010-11, Kamat said.

The other state-owned operator, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL), has launched 3G services in Mumbai and Delhi and is in the process of adding 750,000 lines of 3G in both cities, he said.

3G services will enable high end services like video telephony, high speed mobile broadband, mobile TV and a number of other value added services. Till the end of May, BSNL has total 7,295 3G subscribers while MTNL had only about 400 subscribers.

Meanwhile, BSNL's revenue arrears for 2007-08 have touched Rs7,482.81 crore, out of which Rs4,226 crore may or may not be recoverable, the house was told. The biggest defaulters are private customers under basic services, who owed Rs4,173.63 crore as on 31 March 2008.

Kamat said the government is considering a proposal to charge a one-time entry fee for spectrum allocation beyond 6.2 Mhz. He also said the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is seeking powers to penalise telephone companies that violate its directives.