India's 3G auction likely to be postponed again

This would be the second time the auction has been postponed

India's auction of 3G spectrum and licenses to the private sector is unlikely to go ahead as originally scheduled on Jan. 14, according to sources close to the situation.

The country's auction of 3G licenses has been affected by disagreements between government ministries over the minimum pricing of the licenses, and later by delays by the defense ministry in releasing spectrum in its possession to the communications ministry.

The auction may now start by the end of February, according to local media reports. The Department of Telecommunications (DOT) was not immediately available for comment.

The country's Minister for Communications, A. Raja, said as recently as last week that the auction was on schedule for Jan. 14, with allocation of spectrum to winning bidders likely to follow in August.

The government issued a schedule in October that also indicated Jan. 14 as the tentative date for the auction. But according to the schedule, the government was to issue a notice inviting applications on Dec. 8, with Dec. 21 as the last date for the receipt of applications. Both these dates have passed without any action from the government.

The government hopes to raise at least 250 billion Indian rupees (US$5.3 billion) from the 3G auction, and from the auction of licenses for enhanced CDMA (code division multiple access) and broadband wireless, which were scheduled to be auctioned two days later.

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John Ribeiro

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