New Delhi, June 24: The department of telecom (DoT) is expected to adhere to the spectrum auction timeline by finalising all issues, including bid prices, over the next three weeks.
The nine-member empowered group of ministers (eGoM), set up to take a final decision on the auction policy, had approved the timeline sent by the telecom department in its last meeting.
According to the timeline, the tender document containing all details of the sale will be released on August 6. A tender, or bid document, contains auction guidelines, bid timeline and policy details, based on which potential bidders plan their offer amounts.
This will leave the government with 25 days to conduct the pre-bid conference, issue clarifications, invite applications, check compliance and carry out the bidding process.
Usually, potential bidders are provided the tender document with a copy of the licence policy and detailed bidding guidelines at least 3-4 months ahead of the auction.
"If base price and other issues are resolved by July 15, the telecom ministry will have sufficient time to start the auction process by August 6," officials said, adding that a date for another eGoM meeting is likely to be decided by next week.
The June 21 meeting of the eGoM, which is headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, was postponed indefinitely. Mukherjee will resign from his cabinet post tomorrow to file his nomination papers for the upcoming presidential elections.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, or home minister P. Chidambaram, may for the time being chair the eGoM meetings.
The new eGoM head will have to take a call on the reserve price of spectrum, which has seen strong lobbying from the industry.
Two options on the table are ' Rs 18,000 crore for 5 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum in the 1800 MHz band as proposed by Trai and over Rs 21,000 crore as recommended by a DoT panel.
Telecom operators are opposed to these high base prices, which they say will lead to a 100 per cent hike in mobile tariffs.
Other issues include a stringent rollout obligation for the winners of 2G spectrum and the proposal to allow mobile firms to mortgage spectrum, a move that will enable companies to use this scarce resource as collateral and raise funds from banks for the upcoming auctions.
The government is fighting an August 31 deadline, set by the Supreme Court, to auction spectrum.