3G auction to be held by year-end: Raja (Lead)

June 1st, 2009 - 8:43 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 1 (IANS) Communications Minister A. Raja, who assumed office here Monday, said the auction of third generation (3G) radio bandwidth will be completed by the end of 2009.
“The 3G auction will definitely take place by the end of this year,” he told reporters here.

The 3G services give users access to high-speed data and voice services.

At present, state-run telecom operators Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) are the only two operators that are offering this service in the country.

Raja, however, said he had to first study the current status of the issue.

“Legally speaking, I don’t know the current status… the ministers who were part of the GoM (Group of Ministers) are no longer with it, therefore a lot of things need to be ascertained.”

The minister added that mobile number portability, which would allow users to switch operators without changing numbers, would be implemented in October.

Regarding the national e-governance plan, Raja said: “Within the next five years, paper-less governance will reach at least the taluk levels as part of the e-governance plan.”

The semi conductor policy announced by the previous government will continue to stay and is already attracting new proposals, the minister said.

He said the government would give a push to hardware manufacturing and manufacturing hubs would be promoted.

Asked about the proposal to offload stake in the state-run telecom giant Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), Raja said the ministry “will look into it”.

“Discussions on disinvesting the government stake in BSNL are on. I have asked the company management to talk to the trade union and arrive at a consensus,” he said.

Raja, who assumed office for a second term, said the government would also look into a proposal to sell part of public sector equipment manufacturer ITI Ltd.

“I do hope that there’s a possibility to sell part of it,” he said.

He added that he would “review all matters” pending before the ministry.

“The parliament session is on and I don’t want to make any promises that are not fulfilled in the stipulated time,” Raja said.

Sachin Pilot and Gurudas Kamat also took charge Monday as ministers of state in the communication and IT ministry.

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