3G auctions deferred by two weeks

December 29th, 2008 - 8:39 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 29 (IANS) The auction of third generation (3G) radio frequencies slated for Jan 16 have been delayed, and may now be held Jan 30. “The auctions have been delayed as the cabinet is yet to approve some of the key proposals regarding the auctions,” a Department of Telecom (DoT) official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

The DoT official said the auctions have been delayed as the 3G spectrum charges and the number of players in each circle could not be finalised.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the apex organisation of GSM operators, said a few days’ delay would not be much of a setback.

“It is just a two-week shift, which is no big deal,” COAI director general T.V. Ramachandran told IANS.

“We are in a complex exercise, so a small delay is okay. We will go through this in February,” he added.

When asked if operators too wanted a delay, Ramachandran said: “No one wants a delay; in fact, we are already late in entering the 3G telecom space whereas 120 countries have already launched it.”

According to the DoT official, the deadline for applications has been extended from Jan 5 to Jan 20. Auctions are expected to be held Jan 30.

Last week, the Telecom Commission, India’s apex decision-maker in the telecom sector, had rejected a proposal to impose an ‘administrative tax’ on successful bidders of 3G wireless frequencies, fearing such a tax could impair revenue collections at the upcoming spectrum auction by over Rs.50 billion (Rs.5,000 crore).

The commission, after turning down the telecom sector regulator’s recommendation that successful 3G bidders be asked pay 2 percent of the highest bid amount annually as administrative charges for using the spectrum, had sought cabinet endorsement for the suggestion.

The Telecom Commission had also sought cabinet approval for restricting the upcoming 3G auctions to five players per circle.

This was because of a legal challenge in the Delhi High Court to DoT’s move to limit the number of 3G players to five in a circle.

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