The much-awaited auction of radio waves for third generation mobile phone services, or 3G, is expected to garner at least Rs. 25,000 crore from private bidders, union communications and IT minister, A. Raja said here on Saturday.

“As the Government has decided to hold the auction by February end, it is expecting to fetch the amount as a one-time payment from the bidders,” he told reporters here.

The government expects to garner 35,000 crore from sale of spectrum in this fiscal.

Raja, who was here to launch the 3G services of BSNL in Coimbatore and Nilgiris Districts, said efforts are on to bring in technology that would allow 2G SIM card holders to use the services as well.

Asked about launching 4G services, he said the International Telecom Union was opposed to it and there were also certain technological problems.

“However, the services are expected in a year and it will not have any adverse impact on 3G,” he said.

On BSNL’s declining market share, particularly landlines, Raja said BSNL has 2.5 lakh workers and unlike other players has more rural exchanges.

“BSNL has not just a commercial motive but a larger social responsibility, for which it has to penetrate rural areas,” he said.

He said modalities were being worked on to simplify procedures in calling for tenders, one of the reasons for delays in implementation of projects in the public sector.

He also noted that intense competition had led to private players demanding a minimum tariff to survive in the market.

Earlier addressing the launch function, Raja said the cabinet has decided to utilise IT and network all colleges, universities, educational institutions, research organisations, including agriculture and medical sector, to enable farmers get information by the click of a mouse.

The Centre has allocated Rs. 6,000 crore for the project, which would be implemented in the 11th Plan period, he said.

Raja said that cellphone connections, which were 4.5 million during NDA rule, are increasing each month and had touched 18 million a month now.

He said the tariff was expected to come down to 10 paise for local calls, if competition continued for some more time.

Kuldeep Goyal, BSNL chairman and managing director said 3G services would gradually cover 760 cities and towns across India by this year.

Total capacity addition planned under Phase V.1 is 23 lakh lines, of which 19 lakh was for 2G and four lakh for 3G services at an expenditure of Rs. 1000 crore, including Rs. 130 crore for 3G, Goyal said.

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