Govt to hold 3G spectrum auction on 9 April

Govt to hold 3G spectrum auction on 9 April

New Delhi: The government will hold the much-awaited auction for third generation mobile spectrum on April 9 and will start inviting applications from the prospective bidders from tomorrow.

Announcing the schedule of 3G auction, a government notification said the notice inviting applications would start tomorrow and the last date for submitting the applications is 19 March. The government is expecting Rs35,000 crore from the auction.

While the pre-qualification of bidders would take place on 30 March, mock auctions would be held on the 5th and the 6th of April.

The auction date for 3G spectrum is 9 April 2010, it said.

In the past, 3G auctions have been deferred twice even after the date of announcements of the auction. All big telecom majors Bharti, Vodafone, Rcom and Tatas have readied their plans for the auction.

When contacted, most of the operators expressed relief at the announcement of the dates, but said they would wait for the NIA to for more clarity.

The auction has been delayed over differences between government departments over pricing wireless radio spectrum and on the availability of spectrum to be auctioned.

However, the issues were later resolved, telecom minister A Raja had said.

Though the quantum of the spectrum available for auction is still not clear, sources indicated that three slots may be put on the block in most circles while a few areas may have enough air waves to accommodate four players.

The move comes after the law ministry gave its approval to the NIA last week, paving the way for the government to go ahead with the auction. DoT has, however, dropped a clause in the NIA, which stated that the Government will refund the bid amount in case the auctioned spectrum was not allocated by 1 September 2010.

In an emerging economy like India, there would be a lot of unexplored possibilities in value added services after the introduction of 3G, thus resulting in increased revenues to telecom companies.

With 3G, users will be able to access high-end data services, including ultra-fast internet and video-conferencing, by next year when the operators roll out their commercial 3G services.