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Indian govt to give green light to 3G auction

29 января 2009

The Indian government could give the go-ahead for the allocation of 3G mobile licences later Wednesday, having assessed various proposals surrounding the base price of spectrum, according to local media reports.

Citing "a top source" at the country's communications ministry, The Economic Times said the Cabinet is likely to make its decision on the allocation of 3G licences and on the price issue at a meeting on Wednesday.

Once the Cabinet has given the nod, the licensing process will take place soon, allowing for the rollout of services in the second half of this year, the paper said.

"The views from all ministries have been obtained.
We are confident it will be cleared on Wednesday and the auctions can be held fast," the paper quoted its source as saying.

's 3G auction had been due to take place on Friday, but was delayed pending government approval. To further complicate the situation, the country's finance ministry proposed doubling the previously agreed reserve price. 

The ministry is keen to set a base price of 40.2 billion rupees ($820 million) for pan-Indian 3G spectrum, double the 20.1 billion rupees set by the Department of Telecom (DoT).

The Economic Times predicts that the Cabinet will settle on a compromise figure of 35.4 billion rupees ($720 million), in a bid to appease the telecom and finance ministries. However, the DoT has also submitted a further proposal, which would see the base price of spectrum doubled in
Delhi, Mumbai and the category A circles, but increased by a lesser amount or not at all elsewhere.

The paper added that the driving force behind moves to raise the reserve price is the relative lack of interest shown by potential market newcomers, including foreign companies.

The government aims to raise 400 billion rupees ($8 billion) from the 3G auction, but market watchers are more conservative in their estimates, with figures ranging from $4 billion-$6 billion.

In a separate story, Indian state-owned operator Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) revealed on Wednesday that it expects to receive a 5.1 billion-rupee ($100 million) tax refund.

In an announcement to the Bombay Stock Exchange, MTNL said the sum relates to tax years 2001-02 and 2003-04, plus interest.

Источник: Total Telecom

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