Inter ministerial group meets on 3G auction tomorrow

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 - 20:48

New Delhi: The government appointed inter ministerial committee on 3G spectrum auction is likely to meettomorrow to sort out various issues, including the number of blocks to be auctioned and payment schedule for successful bidders.

As per the revised schedule for 3G auction prepared by the Department of Telecom (DoT), successful bidders will be asked to make 100 per cent payment by March in two installments.

The bidders would be asked to pay 25 per cent of the bid amount by February 28 and the remaining 75 per cent by March 10 in case of 3G spectrum and March 20 for Wimax.

Sources close to the development said the group with representation from Ministries of Telecom, Defence and Finance may meet tomorrow, ahead of issuing Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) from potential bidders for 3G spectrum, to provide information about these issues.

Differences continue to persist between the telecom and the defence ministries over the quantity of spectrum available with the DoT to put up for auction.

Sources said spectrum crunch may force the government to allow only three private operators to offer 3G services in a circle as the Ministry of Defence has agreed to vacate only 20 MHz till August and out of this one block has already been alloted to BSNL/MTNL.

Even the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM), headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, in its last meeting had taken a decision to this effect, says minutes of the meeting.

In case only three blocks are auctioned, the government may not get the targeted Rs 25,000 crore from sale of radio waves needed for third generation telecom services.

According to the minutes of the EGoM meeting held on December 21, 2009, "DoT will auction 3 or 4 blocks each of 2x5 MHz of 3G spectrum pan-India (excluding one block assigned to BSNL/MTNL) subject to availability of spectrum."

Immediately after the EGoM meeting, Telecom Minister A Raja had announced that four blocks of 3G spectrum would be auctioned.

The government has fixed reserve price for 3G spectrum at Rs 3,500 crore for pan-India and Rs 1,750 for WiMax services. DoT is likely to issue NIA on January 10 and start the auction of 3G spectrum on February 12 and complete the process by March 5, 2010.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 - 20:48

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