Govt may miss 31 Aug spectrum deadline

An inter-ministerial panel set up to supervise auction of spectrum for telecom services is learnt to have said it is not possible to meet the Supreme Court [SC] deadline of 31 August to complete the process.

According to government sources, the Inter-Ministerial Committee [IMC] has conveyed that it is difficult to complete the auction exercise by August 31 due to delay in final decision from empowered group of ministers [EGoM].

The IMC has already extended the date for submitting bids by auctioneer [agency that will operate auction process] from 5 to 20 July. The auctioneer can be selected only after final guidelines are issued by EGoM.

‘The selected auctioneer would need some time to prepare the auction design due to its complexity. Further, compliance certification will be required. Hence, it would not be possible to meet the SC set deadline,’ government sources said.

The panel has also suggested that these ‘constraints be brought before the court’. The views were taken by IMC in its fifteenth meeting on 29 June, sources said.

The panel includes representatives from the ministries of finance, commerce, communications and IT and a senior adviser from the Planning Commission.

After cancelling 122 telecom licences, Supreme Court has asked government to complete auction by 31 August and extended validity of quashed licences till 7 September. The deadline for spectrum auction is important for companies like Sistema Shyam, Uninor and Videocon to win airwaves frequencies in the auction for their business continuity.

A senior telecom ministry official accepted difficulty in meeting the deadline but declined to confirm the opinion made by the panel.
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