A highly anticipated auction of third-generation (3G) wireless licenses in India has been delayed as officials with India’s finance ministry asked the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) to double the reserve price for the nationwide 3G license. Plans for the auction were announced last August with the goal of starting bidding by the end of 2008. However, disputes between the finance ministry and the DOT over issues that include the role of incumbent carriers and the participation of foreign entities resulted in the auction start date being pushed back first to January 15 and then to January 30. Sources indicate that prospective international bidders have also called for delays to allow them sufficient time to raise capital in the midst of current global economic conditions. In addition to auctioning a nationwide 3G license at a current reserve price of US $412 million, the government is also offering a nationwide WiMAX license at a reserve of US $228 million. Officials believe the auction will raise in excess of US $8 billion, and the ministry is said to have cited the torrid pace of growth in India’s wireless sector (currently the world’s second largest) and the interest of foreign carriers in seeking to raise reserve prices for both the nationwide 3G and WiMAX networks. Experts, however, have warned that further delays—combined with a doubling of the reserve price and perceptions that the auction is structured in favor of domestic carriers—could discourage foreign participation and thus prevent the auction from reaching its target price. Commenting on these developments, one industry official lamented: “in an environment of economic downturn, the idea to increase the base price, when the schedule has already been revised once, is a backward step.”