New Delhi: The mock e-auction of spectrum for third generation (3G) mobile phone services and broadband wireless access (BWA) was conducted smoothly on Monday, setting the stage for the long-awaited sale later this month.
The mock exercise was designed to make the process transparent for bidders and help them get used to the system. The actual auction of 3G radio waves, which will allow mobile service providers to offer high-speed voice and data and multimedia services, starts on 9 April; the BWA auction will take place two days after the 3G auction.
“There were no issues with the system at all. It was very simple,” said an official with one of the bidders who didn’t want to be identified. “We were allowed to log into the system three days back to get accustomed to it. Then today, the system went live for the auction.”
Applicants bidding for the spectrum and taking part in the auction had to log into the computer system with encrypted keys and then for every slot of spectrum they were given an option to bid. “If we wanted to bid, we would just check the box and then click on ‘submit’,” an official from another applicant said, requesting anonymity.
Testing the system: DoT has invited some senior officials, including Sam Pitroda, adviser to the PM, for a demonstration of the auction. Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Based on demand for a certain slot of spectrum, the price of the slot up for auction is hiked by up to 10% at every round of bidding. The bidders then check a box agreeing to bid such an amount and click on ‘submit’.
“We don’t expect any glitches in the system. It should go off very smoothly,” a third official with one of the larger GSM-based mobile phone firms said. He didn’t want to be named.
In another development, the department of telecommunications (DoT) has invited some of the seniormost government officials to attend a demonstration of the auction, which will include a presentation of it as well.
“This is a path-breaking step, as spectrum is being auctioned for the first time. For this, the department of telecommunications has developed an innovative auction mechanism to ensure that market determined price of spectrum is obtained and 3G/BWA services become available in the country at the earliest,” a letter inviting the officials said.
The invitations have been sent to 21 officials including Sam Pitroda, adviser to the Prime Minister; Pratyush Sinha, chief vigilance gommissioner; and Vinod Rai, comptroller and auditor general of India. Deepak Parekh, chairman of Housing Development Finance Corp. Ltd, was also invited.
“The move is seen as an attempt by DoT to showcase the transparency of the system,” a Mumbai-based analyst with an international brokerage said on the condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media.