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DoT for commencing spectrum auction from February 23

PTI 18 Nov 2014, 20:19:19 PM IST

New Delhi: Spectrum auction for mobile services is expected to start from February 23, a few days later than suggested by a ministerial group, according to official sources.

The inter-ministerial group, formed to work out modalities for the next round of auction, had suggested February 3 as the date for starting the biddings.

Sources said that the government is also mulling auctioning some amount of 3G spectrum along with radiowaves in three sets of spectrum band -- 800 Mhz (used by CDMA operators) that is lying unused, alongwith 900 Mhz and 1800 Mhz being used by Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communication for 2G services across the country.

The government expect to raise a minimum of Rs 9,355 crore from the auction of three sets of available spectrum. Besides, the sources said that it expects to further raise Rs 5,000 crore from auction of 3G spectrum in the 2100 Mhz band, provided the Defence Ministry vacates it.

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday to discuss the vacation of 3G spectrum. Though Prasad did not share whether the 3G radiowaves will be available for auction, he said that the matter will be resolved very soon.

In a presentation to Prasad on November 13, DoT officials have shared February 23 as proposed date to commence bidding process for airwaves and payment of final price within 10 days from the date bidding round end.

"The notice inviting application (NIA) as per suggested time line will be issued on December 26," an official source said. The NIA is main document of spectrum auction which carries all details of radiowaves being put for sale, rules, price etc and is legally binding on both government as well as bidders.

The sources said an internal DoT committee is also examining recommendation of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on auction of 700 Mhz -- the most expensive frequency band available for telecom services. DoT is expected to finalise auctioneer, agency which will operate spectrum auction process, on Wednesday.