3G auction in Jan next year; foreign cos allowed to bid
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Last Updated: Saturday, October 24, 2009, 23:23
New Delhi: The government on Saturday said foreign firms would be allowed to bid for spectrum for third generation mobile services and will start auctioning the radio waves from January 14, 2010.

"Interested foreign entities are allowed to participate in the auctions directly and apply for licences subsequently," the revised Information Memorandum, giving details about eligibility criteria and time schedule said.

Foreign entities can operate telecom services in India only through an Indian subsidiary with not more than 74 per cent foreign share holding, subject to the approval of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has said the auction of 3G spectrum would be carried out in four stages -- invitation stage, pre-qualification, auction and grant of spectrum.

The DoT would hold a pre-bid conference on November 16 and the mock auction would be conducted on January 11-12 next year.

"The auction of 3G spectrum would start on January 14, 2010," the DoT said, adding that this is an indicative time schedule and subject to revision.

According to the revised schedule, there is a slippage of over two weeks compared to the original plan as announced by the Empowered Group of Ministers.

Firms have to submit bids by December 21 for a total of 71 blocks of spectrum put up for auction across 20 of India's 22 telecoms zones, according to a memorandum to prospective bidders.

The document is available at: www.dot.gov.in/as/Auction%20of%20Spectrum%20for3G%20&%20BWA/3g.pdf

The auction, which would introduce high-speed Internet and video downloads on mobile phones, was originally slated for January 2009 but was deferred to December after differences between the telecom and finance ministries over the reserve price for the bids.

The government did not give a reason for the second extension.

The base price for 3G spectrum across the country is 35 billion rupees (USD 750 million), and Telecoms Minister Andimuthu Raja has said the government would net at least 250 billion rupees from the sale.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, October 24, 2009, 23:23

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