The agency which will conduct India’s much hyped 3G spectrum auctions should be finalized by the end of September; auction can only begin after that. As per the guidelines issued by the Department of Telecommunications, the first e-auction will be held within three months of the signing of the contract. Auctions would be conducted from time to time, within a period of one year.
More details, and the application form may be downloaded here.
However, the TRAI guidelines themselves have raised a few eyebrows: The Finance Ministry had asked the Telecom Ministry to put the 3G policy on hold, saying that the spectrum pricing, reserve price for the auction, penalties for hoarding spectrum etc were determined without taking into account its opinion. The Telecom Secretary has countered this objection in typical government-speak, implying that the Finance Ministry shouldn’t interfere with what is the Telecom Ministry’s mandate. Minister of State Jyotiraditya Scindia has said that the Telecom Ministry will “answer their queries”.
Meanwhile, the TRAI has criticised the DoTs proposal to allocate 3G spectrum to CDMA operators on the basis of subscriber base, instead of an auction. At the same time, GSM operators have to bid for licenses. This move favours Reliance Communications. In response, the DoT has said it’s “open” to auctioning CDMA spectrum as well, though we don’t know whether that means that the CDMA auction in imminent.