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DoT fails to clear queries at 3G pre-bid meet
[Image: 2009111750890401.jpg]
Chaotic affair: The DoT Joint Secretary, Mr J. S. Deepak (right) and the DoT Wireless Adviser, Dr Ashok Chandra, at the pre-bid conference, in the Capital on Monday.

New Delhi, Nov. 16 The 3G pre-bid conference held on Monday turned out to be a chaotic affair, with the Department of Telecom failing to provide adequate clarification to most of the policy related queries raised by the prospective bidders.

Though the DoT said that it will auction available spectrum for third generation and broadband wireless access this fiscal, it did not have answers to a number of issues immediately since they were still being discussed between various Ministries.

The conference appeared to be just a formality as operators sought more clarity on a number of issues including 2G spectrum policy, availability of four slots in all circles, allocation of back-haul spectrum and allowing broadband operators to offer voice services.

The DoT officials present, however, deflected most of these questions by saying that answers will be provided later on its Web site. “While it is clear that the Government will push through with the auction this time, there is still a lot of ambiguity and lack of clarity on a number of issues that affect the bidding process,” said an operator. The conference was attended by executives from all the existing players, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, Reliance Communication, Tata Teleservices and Idea Cellular. Even new players, including Loop Telecom, Unitech Wireless and Etisalat DB, were present.

“There is a lot of work that still remains to be done by DoT. The questions raised today were also asked a year back and still we don’t have an answer. Some of the policy-related issues, such as the 2G spectrum allocation being discussed by the regulator, will have an impact on the 3G bidding. So one will have to see how DoT addresses these issues,” said Mr Prashant Singhal, Telecom Head at Ernest&Young.

Under wraps

Not many foreign players were visible though they may have sent their representation through India-based consultants to keep their identity under wraps. A number of consultants including PwC, Dua Consultants and BDA were present at the day-long conference. Technology vendors, including Intel and Nokia Siemens, also participated.

“The Government should not delay the 3G auction any longer, but it would help the bidders if more clarity is provided on all the issues raised today,” said Mr Narender Gupta, Corporate Director, Group Regulatory Affairs, Bharti.

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