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HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 03, 2013
The empowered group of ministers (EGoM) on telecom headed by the finance minister P Chidambaram failed to take any decision on Thursday on the modalities of auction of spectrum in 800 MHz band. The group will meet again on Monday. The government wants to complete spectrum auction for 22 circles in the 800 MHz band in the 1800 MHz band in four circles — Delhi, Mumbai, Rajasthan and Karnataka — by March so that it is able to meet its target of raising about R40,000 crore through sale of spectrum. There were no takers for these slots in the auctions held last year.

The EGoM had two options before it. One was to reduce the reserve price of spectrum in the 800 Mhz band. The other option was to reduce refer the issue of reserve price to the telecom regulatory authority of India (TRAI).

“The EGoM deliberated on several issues for about two hours, then decided to meet again on January 7 to further deliberate on the issues,” said union communications and IT minister Kapil Sibal after the meeting.

The government will also auction spectrum in the 900 MHz band in four circles — Delhi, Mumbai, Rajasthan and Karnataka.

Old incumbent operators hold spectrum in the 900 Mhz band. However, they will have to vacate it when their licences come up for renewal in 2014.

The government is likely to sell more spectrum in Delhi, Mumbai, Karnataka and Rajasthan in the 1800 MHz band, than what was offered in November. Earlier, only 10 Mhz was available for auction.