Govt defers 3G auction plan to January-end

Govt defers 3G auction plan to January-end

New Delhi: The Union government’s plan to auction spectrum rights for third generation (3G) mobile phone services has been delayed, with the department of telecommunications (DoT) postponing the deadline for potential bidders to submit applications by 15 days to 20 January.

A 3G mobile phone service supports high-speed data transfer, allowing users to surf the Internet and download video content at speeds faster than current technologies deployed on Indian cellular networks.

On Monday, it was not immediately clear when the 3G auction, initially to begin on 16 January, would be held, but an industry representative said he expected it to be held by end of January. “That’s what I have been told," T.V. Ramachandran, director general of the Cellular Operators’ Association of India, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

A senior official at DoT, who didn’t want to be named, said the decision to extend the deadline stemmed from concerns expressed by prospective applicants during a pre-bid conference held in New Delhi on 23 December, and also pending approvals by the cabinet committee on economic affairs.

At the conference, attended by representatives of NTT DoCoMo Inc., AT&T Inc., Reliance Communications Ltd, and Bharti Airtel Ltd, among others, participants expressed concern that they hadn’t been given sufficient time to prepare their bids, given an overlap with Christmas holidays. Participants also sought clarifications about bidding rules, according to a person who attended the meeting and didn’t want himself or his employer to be identified.

Global telecom market leaders such as AT&T and Deutsche Telekom AG have said they are interested in entering India and the government expects them to take part in the auction. Minister of state for communications Jyotiraditya Scindia said earlier this year that he expects the 3G bids to gross Rs30,000-40,000 crore.