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DoT Notice for 3G auction to be issued this week
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will release notice inviting applications (NIA) for prospective bidders at the 3G spectrum auction by the end of this week.

“The issues between the law and finance ministries have been resolved. NIA will be issued by the end of this week. The auction process will take 40-45 days from the issuance of NIA,” Communications and IT Minister A Raja said.

NIA, which would invite bids from interested firms, would give all the details about the available spectrum and slots to be auctioned, besides the rules and policy regarding the auction process.

The government had earmarked Rs 35,000-crore proceeds from the sale of spectrum in the current financial year.

However, by taking 40-45 days into account, the auction process is unlikely to be completed in this financial year. But experts say the government can still factor in the revenues expected to come from the sale of 3G airwaves in this financial year, even if the money comes after March 31, but the process of auctioning is completed this financial year. Under the rules, the government can claim credit to revenues.

The law ministry had objected to a clause in the draft NIA that successful bidders could ask for compensation in case they were not allotted spectrum within stipulated time. The clause has been removed now and DoT has again sent the revised NIA to the law ministry for approval. The finance ministry was keen to conduct 3G auction in this financial year itself as the revenues would help them bridge the fiscal deficit.

Further, uncertainty over number of slots to be auctioned and unavailability of spectrum had delayed the 3G auction, which was scheduled to take place on January 14 this year.

Raja also said the number of slots to be auctioned in each circle would be according to the decision of the Empowered Group of Ministers.

Last week, Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar had said it would not matter if the 3G auction happened in this financial year or the next and the government would prefer to auction the spectrum at a time when it could earn the maximum revenue.

Raja also said the mobile number portability (MNP) service would be started by the end of May this year.

It was scheduled to start on December 31 last year in metros, but the date of launch was postponed to March 31. Now, it has been further pushed to May.

“MNP has been delayed by two months because of security reasons,” Raja said.

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