The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is likely to seek the approval of the empowered group of ministers (EGoM) on telecom, headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, on the participation of foreign entities directly in the coming 2G spectrum auction, without any Indian partner.
The EGoM, expected to meet tomorrow, will also decide on the issue of the one-time fee on spectrum held by existing telecom operators.
DoT will seek approval for “ratification of amendment to eligibility conditions for participation in the spectrum auction, incorporated in the notice inviting application (NIA),” said a senior DoT official who did not want to be named.
The government on Friday allowed foreign entities to participate in the 2G auctions without an Indian partner. However, to start operations in India, the players have to form a joint venture with an Indian partner. “Since, the NIA for participation in the auction had to be issued on September 28, the amended condition for eligibility was incorporated in the notice, with approval of the EGoM chairman, to be ratified by EGoM at its subsequent meeting,” the official said.
Besides, the NIA said non-UASL (unified access service licence) or CMTS (cellullar mobile telephone service) licencees might also participate in the auction as new entrants. However, such, licencees being successful in the auction will need to obtain unified licence (access services). The notice said companies interested in starting telecom business in the country will have to pay Rs 1 crore for unified licence in a service area where they wish to operate. The notice lists out the rules and regulations governing the auction and is considered the only legally binding document regarding the auction.
In July, the Cabinet had referred the matter to the EGoM for its views. Later in the month, the EGoM had deferred a decision on the matter till the Supreme Court responded to a Presidential reference the government has filed. Following the Supreme Court’s opinion on the Presidential reference, in which the apex court endorsed that policy making is the government’s realm, the government is now free to take a decision in this regard.
DoT had made four proposals to the Cabinet on one-time fee — no charge; levy a one-time fee on all airwaves held by the existing telcos; impose a fee on airwaves held beyond the start-up spectrum of 4.4 MHz; or levy a fee on airwaves held beyond the contracted spectrum of 6.2 MHz.