Will it make the deadline this time?
The suspense over auction of spectrum for third-generation (3G) mobile telephony that would usher in high-speed broadband on your mobile phone seems to be finally over.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said on Wednesday that the auctions would be held on April 9 with the process set to end on April 10. In a statement, DoT said the government would invite applications from prospective bidders from Thursday. The last day for submitting bids is March 19. The government is expecting Rs 35,000 crore from the auction.
However, most of the telecom service providers are passing through financial stress and are not enthusiastic about the auction that would mean spending money to block spectrum.
The auction was held up by contentious issues, including the base reserve price, the number of operators in a particular circle and the reluctance of defence authorities to vacate spectrum, before ministries moved to resolve differences.
State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd were allotted licences last year and have since started offering 3G services.
While the pre-qualification of bidders would take place on March 30, mock auctions would be held on the 5th and the 6th of April, government officials said.
An auction for broadband wireless access (BWA) services will be held two days after the completion of 3G bandwidth auctions, according to the statement.
“We are really glad that the government has announced the revised schedule for the 3G auction and we look forward to the entire process being completed within the given time-frame,” said Anil Sardana, managing director, Tata Teleservices Ltd.
The 3G auction is getting started even as 4G (fourth generation) services are being planned elsewhere in the world.
“It is also heartening to note that as 4G is being introduced in many parts of the world, the government has also started consultation process for the same. This can help put Indian telecoms on a fast-track,” Sardana said.
In the past, 3G auctions have been deferred twice even after the date of announcements of the auction.