Another 2G auction before March: Sibal

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 16, 2012 11:36 hrs

Days after a poor 2G spectrum auction, Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on Friday said the government is planning to have another auction of telecom spectrum before March next year.

"The intent is to try and have another auction before March 31. We will discuss how to move forward and take a call on it," Sibal said while addressing a press conference here on Friday.

"Of course, there will be an auction. There is no doubt about that. What procedure we follow for that auction is something we will decide in another few weeks," he said.

He blamed ´sensationalism´ as the factor behind the collapse of telecom growth.

"The telecom story is no longer a story we can share with the world. Sensationalism took over," Sibal said.

"You cannot extrapolate figures and sensationalize them and destroy the hen that laid the golden egg," he said.

The Indian government fetched just Rs 9,407 crore, a fraction of the Rs 40,000 crore it had hoped, as the auction for the second-generation (2G) GSM spectrum ended on Wednesday.

The auction, organised after the cancellation of 122 telecom licences by the Supreme Court in the wake of the 2G scam, got a very poor response and ended after 15 rounds on the second day of bidding.

The 3G auction in 2010 had got the government Rs 66,000 crore.

None of the five companies bidding for the spectrum made any offer for pan-India airwaves for which the reserve price was set at Rs 14,000 crore.

The operators participating in the auction were Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Telenor, Videocon and Idea Cellular.

Metro cities of Delhi and Mumbai drew no bids.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said the poor response to the 2G auction was a result of flawed execution by the government.

In a statement issued after the auction ended, the COAI said: "All along, the COAI has maintained that the reserve price was guaranteed to have a detrimental impact on the auction... the auctions have concluded on the exact note as predicted."

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