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The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on telecom will be convening on November 29, in response to the dismal showing at the 2G GSM spectrum auction held on November 12, where operators only bid for Rs. 9,407 crore worth of airwaves, when Rs. 28,000 was the minimum price set for the entire spectrum up for auction.
The agenda for tomorrow’s meeting of the EGoM, headed by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, has not been disclosed. It is speculated at the much-discussed issue of the price of the spectrum would be the matter under contention, seeking to understand the reasons behind the lack of bidding by the operators. The government reportedly intends to auction away the unsold spectrum by March.
According to reports, the minimum price set for the GSM spectrum is eight times higher than was set for spectrum allocation period ending in 2008. November 12’s GSM spectrum auction 1,800MHz auction saw no takers for spectrum in Delhi, Mumbai, Rajasthan and Karnataka. The 900MHz auction is scheduled to start in March and be completed by June next year.
The recently concluded CDMA spectrum auction (priced 11 times higher) saw no bidders, with Tata Teleservices withdrawing its application to bid for the 800MHz band.
According to reports, the company did not find the auction financially viable, not seeing any point in making bids 'loss-making' circles such as Assam, North-East and Jammu & Kashmir.
Tata's withdrawal from the auction came shortly after shortly after Videocon exited from the bid. The company is planning to bid only for 5-7 GSM circles, down from the original plans to bid for 17 circles. With Tata's exit, there were no players remaining for bidding for the CDMA spectrum.
Earlier this month, GSM operators' body COAI slammed the regulator TRAI for not taking all the stakeholders on board over the issue of spectrum refarming. Accusing the government of failing to handle the issue in a transparent manner, the operators body called upon DoT to tackle the issue in a 'holistic, transparent, comprehensive and consultative manner'.