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Updated: January 15, 2013 14:28 IST

Decision on spectrum pricing in three weeks: Sibal

PTI
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Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal. File photo
The Hindu Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal. File photo

The government will in next three weeks decide on the pricing of spectrum that will be sold in the second round of auction beginning March 11, Telecom Minister Kabil Sibal said on Tuesday.

The auction, he said, will be completed before March-end.

The Supreme Court yesterday allowed mobile phone operators, whose permits were due to be revoked this week as per an earlier court order, to continue service until it hears the case next on February 4.

It asked the government to explain the price these companies will have to pay for spectrum usage since cancellation of their licenses in February last year.

The Department of Telecommunications had urged the court to allow companies to operate until the next airwave auction.

Mr. Sibal termed the apex court order as “positive” and said all the spectrum pricing issues will be decided before February 4, when the apex court will again hear the matter.

“I think it’s a positive sign and I am sure that just as the previous auction process was completed without any problem the new auctions will also be completed within the time-frame and before the end of March,” Mr Sibal told reporters in New Delhi.

An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had last week recommended reducing minimum price for sale of spectrum used by CDMA mobile operators and the unsold airwaves of first round by up to 50 per cent.

The government is likely to raise Rs. 45,000 crore from the second round of spectrum sale that is scheduled to start from March 11.

About 70 per cent of the airwaves went unsold in the November auction that raised Rs. 9,410 crore, less than 25 per cent of the amount the government was targeting to raise from spectrum sale this fiscal.

“The Supreme Court order extending the date from January 18 to February 4 is reflective of the fact that we have fully explained as to how we have move forward in the previous auction and how we are moving forward in the next auction to ensure that an appropriate procedure has been set in place and to give the operators a chance of buying spectrum,” Mr. Sibal said.

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