January Date for Indian Sale

(22 Oct 2008, BWCS Staff)

The much-trumpeted auction of 3G licences in India will go ahead by the 15th of January next year, Communications and IT Minister A Raja promised yesterday.  The process of selling off 3G licences in the subcontinent was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of this year; however, numerous regulatory and financial delays have meant that the process has been held up. Sources say the auction could raise as much as US$10 billion for state coffers.

State-run telcos Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL), which offers its services in Delhi and Mumbai, and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) which operates in the rest of the country, have already been allotted frequency spectrum for 3G mobile phone services. However, the two companies will be forced to pay the government amounts equal to the highest qualified bidder among the private players. An auction will also be held for 3G mobile phone providers who use the CDMA technology platform. The earlier plan was to allocate the scarce frequency spectrum on the basis of higher subscriber bases.

Raja insisted that his department is neither pushing the auction forward with undue haste, nor is it delaying the process. He told Indian newspapers yesterday "The 3G auction will be completed by January 15th and the operators would have to pay up by January 31," insisting "there is no change in that, unless the Finance Ministry voluntarily wanted to have some comments over the issue."


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