Second round of 2G spectrum auction may start March 11 with a lower base price

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Second round of 2G spectrum auction may start March 11 with a lower base price
The second round of auction for selling unsold telecom spectrum is likely to start from March 11 with a lower base price.

According to sources, "stiff timeline has been drawn taking into account the EGoM decision dated December 7, 2012 that all effort should be made to complete the process during the current financial year."

The timeline of the second auction is likely to be discussed by the Empowered Group of Ministers on Telecom in its scheduled meet on January 7.

Sources said that auction is proposed to start from March 11 for unsold spectrum in 1800 Mhz and airwaves in 900 Mhz band held by telecom companies whose licences are coming up for renewal in 2014.

The government may increase the quantum of spectrum or number of blocks on the block this time, they added.

As per the proposed timeline, DoT may issue auction guidelines on January 7 if EGoM approves it, sources said.

It may come out with Notice Inviting Application, the final document that legally binds government and bidders, on January 29, if EGoM decides to continue with same private agency Times Internet with e-Procurement Technologies that handled previous auction.

Companies interested in bidding for spectrum would have to submit applications by February 22.

Government plans to auction unsold spectrum in 1800 Mhz band for Delhi, Mumbai, Rajasthan and Karnataka service areas at 30 per cent less base price by March.

The government in the previous auction had put up 8 blocks of 1.25 Mhz each for auction at Rs. 693.06 crore in Delhi and Rs. 678.45 crore in Mumbai.

DoT is also of the view that spectrum in 1800 Mhz band should be re-auctioned in Kolkata circle even as the service area attracted bids in previous auction in November 2012.

"In metro area, the coverage aspect is more important than the propagation characteristics of the spectrum and given that 1800 Mhz spectrum is priced at half of 900 Mhz spectrum, 1800 Mhz may become the first choice of the bidders," sources said.

The proposed timeline adds to uncertainty on operations of telecom companies whose 2G licences, that were cancelled by the Supreme Court, are valid till January 18.

As per the apex court order, 21 licences of Sistema Shyam Teleservices (MTS), 16 permits of Telenor controlled Uninor, 15 of Videocon and 3 CDMA permits of Tata Teleservices will stand cancelled from January 18. Telenor is in the process to transferring the business of Uninor in six circles under new entity Telewings Communications, which recently won spectrum.

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