New Delhi: The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has informed the ministerial panel on telecom that the information memorandum containing details of the sale of proposed second generation (2G) mobile telephony radio spectrum will be released only on August 22, The Economic Times reported, clouding the government's ability to meet the Supreme Court of India set August 31 deadline to auction the bandwidth.
Last month, the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on telecom had approved a new time-table under which it was decided to release the information memorandum on August 6.
In February, the Supreme Court had ordered cancellation of all 122 telecommunication licenses awarded to eight operators in a scandal-tainted spectrum sale in 2008, and had asked the government to redistribute the spectrum through an auction within four months.
However, the apex court later extended the timeline for conducting the auction, and issuance of fresh licenses to August 31.
In 2010, when the government had conducted the third generation (3G) spectrum auction, the period between releasing information memorandum and completion of 3G auctions was about four months.
DoT, in its guidelines, recently said that it will auction at least 10 megahertz (MHz) of radio waves in the 1,800 MHz bandwidth, as earlier suggested by the Telecom Commission, the highest policy decision-making body of the communications ministry.
As per the guidelines, the existing telecom companies can bid for maximum two blocks of 1.25 MHz each in the 1,800 MHz band, while new operators will be allowed to bid for minimum four blocks each of 1.25 MHz and also an additional block of 1.25 MHz.
In case of the 800 MHz band, the existing operators will be allowed to bid for one block of 1.25 MHz, while the new entrants will be allowed to bid for at least two blocks each of 1.25 MHz and also an additional block of 1.25 MHz.
The government may also make available additional three blocks in the 1,800 MHz band and one block in the 800 MHz band of 1.25 MHz each, wherever available, to cater to the requirement of the new entrants, if an exigency arises.
In April, TRAI proposed an auction base price of Rs 36.22 billion for every MHz of nationwide spectrum in the 1,800 MHz band, about 10-times the price of Rs 3.8 billion during the 2008 sale, drawing howls of protest from the industry.
The government is yet to make an announcement on whether the TRAI suggested auction base price will be enforced.