3G issue referred to GoM
(29 jan '09, 12.10. p.m.)

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has referred the decision on pending issues related to the much awaited auction of third generation (3G) spectrum to a group of ministers (GoM). The deadline for the auction process has been extended thrice earlier.
The issue was referred to the CCEA following inter-ministerial differences over the reserve price for the spectrum and the number of blocks to be auctioned.

In its Cabinet note, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had put forward three options — retain the base price for an all-India licence for the spectrum at Rs 2,020 crore (as initially suggested by the DoT), increase it to Rs 3,540 crore or double it to Rs 4,040 crore (as recommended by the finance ministry).

The note also asked for the department of legal affairs’ view on whether the DoT was required to refer the issue of spectrum price back to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

The note had also left it to the CCEA to decide the contentious issue of whether a 2 per cent administrative charge should be levied on the successful bidder. Contrary to Trai recommendations, the DoT has said the charge should not be levied.

The Cabinet note had also recommended that the auction process be completed within two months from the date the CCEA cleared the 3G policy. The latest development, however, means that the auction has been delayed indefinitely. The DoT is yet to issue a schedule for the auction after it scrapped its latest deadline of January 30.



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