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3G spectrum auction on schedule: Raja

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The auction of 3G spectrum is on track and the empowered group of ministers (EGoM) will take a decision on the number of slots to be sold, Telecom Minister A Raja said today.

"There is no change in auction schedule," Raja told reporters on the sidelines of a conference here.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is scheduled to auction 3G spectrum starting January 14.

Asked about the number of slots to be auctioned, Raja said, "The EGoM will decide on the number of slots."

The government, yesterday, said the 3G telephony spectrum available with it for sale could accommodate only three operators as one slot has already been awarded to state-owned MTNL (that operates in Delhi and Mumbai) and BSNL (rest of India).

It had earlier planned to auction spectrum to four private operators, in addition to the state-run firms.

It is believed that the decision comes in the wake of the Ministry of Defence's reluctance to vacate the designated spectrum (air waves) for commercial use.

The government has fixed the reserve price of spectrum at Rs 3,500 crore for pan-Indian 3G spectrum and Rs 1,750 crore for Wimax (wireless Internet/broadband), which is expected to fetch the government revenue of Rs 25,000 crore.

This could now fall short of estimates as it would have to forgo at least Rs 5,250 crore due to cancellation of one slot.

First Published: Fri, December 11 2009. 16:14 IST