India appears to have resolved the contentious issues surrounding the auction of the third generation (3G) spectrum with the notices inviting bids for auction expected next week.
"NIA (notice inviting applications) will be released this week. Then you can take 40-45 days," Telecom Minister A. Raja told reporters on the sidelines of a conference here.
Among the contentious issues surrounding the auction are the base reserve price, the number of operators that will be allowed to offer 3G services in a particular circle, and the reluctance of the defence forces to vacate spectrum.
The two state-run telecom companies Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd, were allotted the licences last year and have since started offering 3G services in their operating circles.
The central government was keen on holding the auction before this fiscal (2009-10) ended so that it could raise an estimated Rs.25,000-30,000 crore (Rs.250-300 billion/$5.5-6.5 billion) and soften the mounting fiscal deficit.
However, that might not happen. Asked if his ministry will be able to complete the auction by March-end, Raja said: "I can't assure that."
Third generation telephony services allow faster connectivity than what is available now, and will enable applications like Internet TV, video-on-demand, audio-video calls and high-speed data exchange.