3G auction update

The government said that the auction for 3G mobile spectrum would commence as per schedule from January 14 next year and allotment would be made to four private players simultaneously by August. "The Empowered Group of Ministers (eGoM) has decided to auction 3G spectrum for four slots as per original schedule," telecom minister A Raja said after an hour-long meeting of the eGoM headed by FM Pranab Mukherjee. Asked whether the defence ministry would vacate the required spectrum, the minister said, "There is a consensus in eGoM on vacation of spectrum and it would be alloted simultaneously to all four winners by August 2010." The government is estimating to generate Rs 25,000 crore from sale of 3G spectrum, allowing five operators, including state-run BSNL/MTNL which have already been given airwaves. Earlier the Department of Telecom (DoT) had expressed concern over delay in vacation of spectrum by the defence ministry and had suggested, in its note for eGoM meeting, that only three slots should be auctioned. The government has fixed a reserve price of Rs 3,500 crore for 3G spectrum and Rs 1,750 crore for the Wimax (wireless broadband) services. Raja said that it has been decided to allot spectrum simultaneously in August, 2010, to all the winners in order to maintain a level-playing field.

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