Updated: January 30, 2010 18:39 IST

Bharti Airtel disappointed with 3G auction delay

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A file photo of Bharti Airtel Chairman and Managing Director Sunil Mittal. Photo: S.S. Kumar
A file photo of Bharti Airtel Chairman and Managing Director Sunil Mittal. Photo: S.S. Kumar

India’s largest mobile operator Bharti Airtel on Saturday said it was disappointed by 3G spectrum auction being postponed until next fiscal, but would participate when it takes place.

“It has been going on for the last three years...We can do nothing until the government starts the auction. We are ready to participate in the auction,” Bharti Airtel Chairman and Managing Director Sunil Mittal told PTI on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meet here.

The government, according to sources, has taken a view that auction should be held only when the spectrum is available to distribute among the players.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) had prepared the draft Notice Inviting Application listing guidelines and terms and conditions for the participants and had sought Law Ministry’s opinion before finalising it.

According to sources, the Law Ministry has raised concerns about operators demanding compensation in case of delay in allocating spectrum.

Asked whether the industry would be hit due to this decision, Mittal said, “...It is not the industry which needs it. It is India (subscribers) who require next generation 3G mobile services.”

According to sources, auction is expected to take place in August-September this year.

The Empowered Group of Ministers, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, had decided to allow four private telecom firms for 3G and had made a provision for garnering up to Rs. 35,000 crore from the sale of airwaves in the current fiscal.

Mittal, however, expressed satisfaction about the performance of Airtel in the last quarter and said “...last quarter was very satisfying. We grew by 10 billion minutes.”

Airtels’ net profit grew by 2.3 per cent to Rs. 2,210 crore in the Q3 over the same period last year.

On the 3G spectrum auction, Mittal said, it was for the government now to take a decision on when to go for it as the industry has nothing to do.

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