India schedules auction of third generation telecom spectrum

New Delhi, Feb 24 (Calcutta Tube) India Wednesday announced the schedule for auctioning radio frequency spectrum to private players for third generation (3G) telephony, with the process due to begin Thursday by issuing a general notice to interested players.

The schedule calls for the process to end April 10. The government also said auction for spectrum for broadband services will also be held two days after the process concludes for 3G spectrum.

The announcement came after some contentious issues surrounding the auction such as base reserve price, the number of operators in a particular circle and the reluctance of the defence forces to vacate spectrum was resolved among various ministries.

The two state-run telecom companies, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd, were allotted licences last year and have since started offering 3G services in their operating circles.

Third generation telecom services allow faster connectivity than what is available now, and will enable applications such as Internet TV, video-on-demand, audio-video calls and high-speed data exchange.

The schedule for the spectrum auction:

Notice inviting applications – Feb 25

Last date of submission of application – March 19

Publication of ownership details of applicants – March 26

Pre-qualification of bidders – March 30

Mock auctions – April 5-6

Start of 3G auctions – April 9

Start of broadband spectrum auctions – Two days after the close of 3G auctions

The central government was keen on holding the auction during this fiscal so that it could raise an estimated $5.5-$6.5 billion and soften the mounting fiscal deficit. But the delay in resolving some key issues kept the matter hanging.

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