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3G auction issue to be resolved soon: Minister

Bangalore, Feb 19 (Calcutta Tube) The vexed auctioning of spectrum (radio waves) for third generation (3G) mobile services would be resolved in a week, Communications Minister A. Raja said late Friday.

‘The 3G auction issue will be resolved in a week. I am yet to hear from the finance and law ministries on its timing,’ Raja told IANS on the margins of a telecom event here.

Asked whether the auction of 3G telecom license would take place by this fiscal-end (March 31) or next fiscal (2010-11), Raja said he would not like to comment, as the spectrum and other related issues were still being resolved.

‘I cannot answer that. All I can say is the issue will be decided soon….in a week,’ Raja said after launching the 3G services of the state-run BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd) in Karnataka circle.

The finance ministry had early this week paved way for the auction of 3G licences in each telecom circle across the country by private players after the defence ministry agreed to part with a portion (5 MHz) of spectrum or air waves for high-speed data services from September.

The central government is keen on holding the auction before this fiscal (2009-10) ended so that it could raise an estimated Rs.25,000-30,000 crore (Rs.250-300 billion/$5.5-6.5 billion) and soften the mounting fiscal deficit.

Though the auctioning will be conducted by the department of telecommunications (DoT), the timing and the number of players to be allowed (two or three) in each circle will be decided by the finance ministry in consultation with the law ministry as it has financial and legal implications.

State-run BSNL and Mahanagar Sanchar Nigam Ltd (MTNL), which operate in Mumbai and Delhi circles were, however, permitted to offer 3G services last year.

With the launch of 3G services in India’s tech hub, BSNL mobile subscribers will have access to video calling, video streaming and high speed internet browsing facilities.

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