Government initiates the process to select the 2G Auctioneer

In a rush to meet the August 31 deadline set by the Supreme Court for auctioning 2G spectrum, an empowered group of ministers (EGoM) Tuesday approved the process to select an auctioneer and said that bids from stakeholders should be invited soon, a senior Department of Telecom (DoT) official said.

“EGoM has approved initiation for the process of selection of auctioneer,” DoT Secretary R. Chandrasekhar told reporters after the EGoM meeting called to discuss the telecom regulator’s recommendations for the auction as mandated by the Supreme Court.

At the meeting, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman J.S. Sarma gave a presentation on its recommendations which have been criticised by almost all the telecom players.

Among other things, the TRAI last month proposed an auction starting price that is 10-13 fold increase over what the operators had paid in 2008 and selling just 5 megahertz spectrum per zone.

TRAI was asked to give its recommendations as mandated by the Supreme Court which Feb 2 had ordered cancellation of 122 licences issued in 2008 and asked the government to re-distribute the licences through auction.

Following strong objections from the industry and sector watchers alike, the telecom commission Monday so sought more information and clarifications from the regulator on its recommendations including spectrum pricing.