The government is learnt to have decided to allow only three private players to offer 3G mobile services for which the spectrum would be auctioned next month and the successful bidders would be asked to pay 100 per cent of the bidding amount in March this year.
"In the case of 3G auction, the government has decided to assign by auction up to 3 blocks of 5x2 MHz of paired in the 2.1 GHz band in each of the 22 circles," said the draft Notice Inviting Application (NIA). The NIA is the legal document containing all relevant information for the bidders.
The said amount of spectrum will be in addition to the one 2x5 MHz block already allocated to BSNL and MTNL.
In view of spectrum being vacated by the Defence in tranches, the successful bidders would be alloted the air waves simultaneously in September to start 3G mobile services.
Winning bidders will deposit 25 per cent of the bid amount within five calender days from the date of auction and remaining (75 per cent) within 15 calender days, according to the draft NIA.
The auction is expected to he held on February 12. The NIA is believed to have stipulated September 2, 2010 as the date for commercial launch.
Department of Telecom official were not available for comments on the timing of the NIA to be made public so that applications can be invited formally from the prospective bidders. But sources said it would be issued this week.
Telecom Minister A Raja had earlier said four private players will be allowed to offer 3G services. But lack of immediate availability of radio waves from defence made Department of Telecom go for 3 players.