Thursday, July 2, 2009

3G auction will take time, rules awaited

India will auction 3G wireless spectrum within three months after the government finalises the number of slots and the floor price for each, the telecoms minister said, indicating the process would take time.

The potential multi-billion dollar auction was initially planned for January, but has been delayed after high prices fetched by private telecoms companies for selling stakes prompted a review of the floor price.

"Two issues are there. What will be the number of slots going to be auctioned? And what is the base price for each slot?" Andimuthu Raja told lawmakers on Thursday in the upper house of Parliament in reply to questions.

He said a committee of ministers would be constituted to consider the issues.

"I hope it will be settled within a fortnight as soon as the committee is constituted," he said.

"Within three months as soon as the stipulation comes from the government, it will be completed," Raja said, on the auction.

As per the initial guidelines issued last year, the government planned to conduct the auction for 20 of India's 22 telecoms zones and had said firms could bid for four slots in most of these areas.

The auction of third-generation radio spectrum would allow firms to offer high-speed Internet and video downloads on mobile phones.

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