Heading an EGoM meet on Thursday, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will attempt to put an end to the raging controversy surrounding the allocation of spectrum to mobile service providers and chart a course for the spectrum auction, due to begin in January 2010.

An Empowered Group of Ministers will meet tomorrow to review progress on auction of 3G mobile licences, amid sharp differences between the telecom and defence ministries over release of spectrum (airwaves) for commercial use.

The government plans to commence auction of 3G (third generation) spectrum from January 14, 2010, but lack of clarity on the number of slots to be sold could derail the process. The government has estimated a revenue of about Rs 35,000 crore from sale of spectrum in the current financial year.

The EGoM's meeting is the second in three days. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who heads the GoM, had met Telecom Minister A Raja and Defence Minister A K Antony earlier this week but they failed to resolve contentious issues plaguing the vacation of spectrum for 3G mobile telephony.

According to senior DoT officials, the Defence Ministry's position is that it does not have any idle spectrum to vacate, contrary to DoT's claim that defence had spectrum to spare. "DoT has said that they have a 3G spectrum but the Ministry of Defence is not accepting it. They say radio frequency is being used by them and cannot be vacated," they added.

On top of tomorrow’s agenda is a review of the progress of vacation of spectrum.

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