3G auction likely to be postponed, CCEA yet to approve the policy
The much-awaited auction of 3G spectrum is likely to be postponed by at least a few weeks as the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) may not get the Cabinet’s approval on vital proposals relating to the services — a move that could delay the start of high-end mobile services like high-speed wireless internet in India.
According to senior DoT officials, the auctioning of 3G spectrum slated for January 16 may be delayed, as the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) is yet to approve the policy. The DoT had decided to take the Cabinet’s approval on higher 3G spectrum charge and number of blocks to be auctioned in each circle.
The Telecom Commission had discussed the issue in its meeting on December 19, the officials said, adding that the decision to go to the Cabinet was taken as a precaution in view of the allegations during the allocation of 2G spectrum and new licences in January this year. Sources, however, pointed out that in case the approval was delayed beyond January 2009 the entire process of auctioning of 3G spectrum and the start of high-end mobile services may get derailed due to the general elections.
The DoT had last week held a pre-bid conference of the potential 3G players and had noticed the absence of foreign players, sources said. This could be another reason for the government to delay the process as this may not fetch the expected revenue, they said.
Union IT and Communication Minister A Raja had earlier estimated that the government may garner about Rs 35,000-40,000 crore from the auction of 3G spectrum.