India has begun the process of introducing fourth-generation (4G) mobile wireless broadband services, even though the government has yet to finalise a date for its long-pending 3G spectrum auction.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Wednesday sought industry views on advanced 4G mobile systems, as it prepares a consultation paper on the new technology, that it said would be 10 times faster than 3G. “It is necessary that our country should be prepared to introduce 4G services at the earliest,” the TRAI said. It said Sweden and Norway had already launched IMT-Advanced (4G) mobile wireless broadband networks and operators in the United States, Korea and Japan were gearing up for these services. The TRAI said it would deliberate on issues such as pricing of spectrum and licensing in its consultation paper.

India is the world's second-largest and the fastest-growing mobile market in terms of subscribers, but most of its networks are of second generation. The country's plan to auction spectrum for 3G and broadband wireless access (BWA) services has been delayed as defence forces, which have much of the spectrum, are yet to vacate it for civilian use. The auction was set to begin from Jan. 14, but Telecoms Minister Andimuthu Raja said on Jan. 12 some of the differences with the defence ministry were yet to be resolved and that a new date had not been agreed upon. Media reports have said the auction could be delayed until September when the spectrum is expected to be available.