The government will hold the auction of 3G spectrum during January 7-10 next year and is likely to give out soon details of time schedule and eligibility criteria of prospective bidders.

When contacted official sources confirmed that Telecom Minister A. Raja has cleared the Information Memorandum (details of timing and eligibility criteria).

The move comes within a week of Mr. Raja writing a letter to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee seeking his intervention to resolve some of the issues with the Defence Ministry, which has refused to release the required spectrum.

There will be a slippage of about 10-15 days from the original schedule as decided by the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by Mr. Mukherjee.

Asked whether issues have been resolved with the Defence Ministry, sources said the secretaries in the Ministries of Telecom and Defence are likely to hold discussions in the coming days to sort out the issues.

The Defence Ministry has decided to release 3G spectrum, which is to be auctioned only and that too in phases. In fact, the armed forces have not released spectrum already in use as envisaged in their agreement with DoT, Mr. Raja had said in his letter.

Because of the stand taken by the Defence Ministry, which is not plausible and against the decisions of the empowered Group of Ministers there has been slippage in the original schedule of auction, he had said.

Auction of 3G spectrum or radio waves was to be completed by this year end. However for want for clarity from the Defence Ministry, the Telecom Ministry could not issue the Information Memorandum that lists eligibility conditions, rules of auction and the details of spectrum.

Sources also said that by issuing the Information Memorandum the DoT has put ball in the Defence Ministry’s court to release the required spectrum to be auctioned.

The government has projected a revenue of Rs 35,000 crore from sale of spectrum and mainly 3G spectrum in the current financial year.

At a base price of Rs 3,500 crore for pan-India 3G and Rs 1,750 crore for Wimax spectrum, the government is hoping to garner up to Rs 25,000 crore.

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