New Delhi: The Department of Telecommunications' proposal to issue final document containing details of the sale of proposed second generation (2G) mobile telephony radio spectrum only on August 22, instead of August 6, has been approved by the ministerial panel on telecom headed by Home Minister P Chidambaram, media reports said.
This creates uncertainty over the government's ability to meet the Supreme Court of India set August 31 deadline to auction the 2G spectrum.
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.
The panel is likely to meet on July 18 to discuss the much awaited reserve price of the spectrum. The delay in deciding on the reserve price has been mainly due to the resignation of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who was heading the EGoM earlier, to contest for Presidential elections.
In April, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (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.
DoT has invited bids by agencies to conduct the e-auction of proposed 2G spectrum in 22 telecom service areas till July 20.
The auctioneer is expected to be finalized on July 26 for which the earlier proposed date was July 10.
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.