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3G spectrum auction unlikely before elections


New Delhi : It is unlikely that auction of the spectrum for third generation (3G) telecommunication applications will take place before the Lok Sabha elections, telecom secretary Siddharth Behura said Wednesday.

“We cannot talk about 3G spectrum auctions since it is election time and nothing seems to be feasibe currently,” Behura told reporters on the sidelines of 17th Convergence India conference here.

The government had constituted a 10-member group of ministers (GoM) in March, led by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, to look into the auctions of the 3G spectrum. The GoM was alos supposed to take a decision on the number of players allowed to offer 3G services in each telecom circle.

In January, the Department of Telecom had proposed a reserve price at Rs.35.4 billion (Rs.3,540 crore) per telecom circle for the 3G auctions.

Earlier, the finance ministry had suggested a base price of Rs.40.4 billion (Rs.4,040 crore), while the DoT had wanted to keep it at Rs.20.2 billion (Rs.2,020 crore).

When asked about status of release of 15 mega hertz (Mhz) of spectrum from defence forces, Behura said: “There is no fixed date for it. It may happen anytime.”

Though Communications Minister A. Raja had said in February that 3G spectrum auctions can happen this fiscal, the government in the Interim Budget 2009-10 said that the auction process will take place only in the next fiscal.