EGoM to meet Thursday to review 3G spectrum vacation

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - 21:02

New Delhi: An Empowered Group of Ministers
will meet on Thursday to review progress on auction of 3G mobile
licences, amid sharp differences between the telecom and
defence ministries over release of spectrum (airwaves) for
commercial use.

The government plans to commence auction of 3G (third
generation) spectrum from January 14, next year, but lack of
clarity on number of slots to be sold could derail the
process.
The government has estimated a revenue of about Rs 35,000
crore from sale of spectrum in the current financial year.

The EGoM`s meeting is the second in three days. Finance
Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who heads the EGoM, had met Telecom
Minister A Raja and Defence Minister A K Antony earlier this
week but the two (Department of Telecom and Ministry of
Defence) failed to resolve the contentious issue of vacating
spectrum for 3G mobile telephony.

According to senior DoT officials, the Defence Ministry`s
position is that it does not have any idle spectrum to vacate,
contrary to DoT`s claim that defence had spectrum to spare.
"DoT has said that they have 3G spectrum but the Ministry
of Defence is not accepting it, as they are saying the radio
frequency is being used by them and cannot be vacated," they
added.

As per the agenda of the meeting tomorrow, "the EGoM will
review progress of vacation of spectrum."

Sources said that Sam Pitroda, Adviser to the Prime
Minister on infrastructure, innovation and information, has
also been roped in to help the defence ministry in vacating
spectrum.

He (Pitroda) is understood to have made a presentation
and submitted a working paper on different frequency bands
which can be vacated by the defence, but the latter was not
convinced, sources said.

Asked whether EGoM may consider rescheduling the auction
of spectrum, sources said there was no such plan as of now.

"We want the auction to be completed in the current
financial year," DoT officials said, adding tomorrow`s meeting
will be important to ensure that auction of 3G spectrum starts
as per the schedule.

Bureau Report



First Published: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - 21:02

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