After mobilizing Rs 9,400 crore from 2G, Govt. to discuss future auction plan on November 29

Telecom Lead India: After mobilizing Rs 9,400 crore from 2G spectrum, India Government is planning to discuss future auction plan on November 29, Thursday.

The Empowered Group of Ministers on telecom, headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram will discuss about lowering spectrum fee for unsold spectrum in Delhi, Mumbai, Rajasthan and Karnataka.

“Its (EGoM meeting) happening on Thursday,” Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters on sidelines of meeting with stakeholders to discuss proposal for World Conference on International Telecommunications starting December 3 in Dubai.

However, Sibal did not talk about agenda of the meeting on Thursday.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram

This will be first EGoM meeting on spectrum issues after auction of spectrum that started on November 12 attracted muted response from the market and fetched the government only Rs 9,407 crore out of Rs 28,000 crore which was minimum value of the airwaves put for auction. The auction of CDMA spectrum had failed earlier after bidders pulled out.

Due to high reserve price fixed by the government, there was no significant competition at the auction table. Telenor, Videocon, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Airtel were the only bidders.

Government had fixed around 8 times high reserve price for GSM spectrum and 11 times high price for CDMA spectrum compared to the amount on which companies were allocated pan-India permits till 2008.

Government is planning to auction unsold spectrum by March. If there is good response from the industry for the unsold spectrum, the Government can mobilize around Rs 20,000 crore.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court said telecom operators, whose licences were cancelled by it but continued to operate due to delay on government’s part to hold fresh auction of 2G spectrum, might have to pay for using the radiowaves on the basis of current price.

A bench of Justice GS Singhvi and Justice KS Radhakrishnan said that it would consider asking the operators to pay for using spectrum as they continued to operate because of delay in auction by the Centre.

The court, however, did not pass any order and said that it would consider the issue at the next date of hearing.

The apex court had on February 2, while cancelling 122 2G licences, allowed them to run for four months after which the order was to become operative.

The date expired on May 2 but the apex court allowed the operators to continue providing services as the Centre failed to put the spectrum on auction which was done only on November 12.

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