Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology A. Raja said here that the third generation wireless spectrum (3G spectrum) service would be launched in the four southern States in November.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a regional cyber security forum for Asia-Pacific, Mr. Raja was optimistic that the government would mop up more than the targeted Rs. 25,000 crore to Rs. 30,000 crore from the auction of 3G spectrum licence with signs of recession easing by December end. It would be possible because the base price for five telecom operators itself was Rs.20,000 crore and another Rs.5,000 crore could accrue from the bidding process.

Responding to apprehensions of cellular operators that the government was going ahead with auction of radio waves for 3G mobile service without finalising the allocation policy for 2G, which is a larger spectrum, he said they were two different issues that would not have any bearing on the current business. The government would ensure that the business of the existing operators did not stop for want of allotment of additional spectrum.

Mr. Raja said the mobile number portability that allows users to change the mobile operator without changing the numbers would be operational in four metros by December 31. The facility would be extended to the rest of the country in six months.

He expected negotiations with trade unions of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited to go for an IPO to be concluded by January. Mr. Raja denied any discussions in his Ministry about the Bharti-MTN deal as the matter was looked into by the Finance Ministry.

However, the Department of Telecom would suggest amendments to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India if they were sought by the Finance Ministry.

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