Govt may consider delaying spectrum auction by 2 days: Secy

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Government may consider a proposal to start bidding round for mega-spectrum auction from October 1 — two days later than the scheduled date — Telecom Secretary J S Deepak said today.

“Telcos have asked if auction can coincide with the ‘auspicious’ period starting October 1 instead of September 29,” Deepak told CNBC TV18.

He said that government may consider it but no final decision has been taken yet.

As per present schedule, bids for airwaves in the country’s biggest ever spectrum auction valued at Rs 5.63 lakh crore is scheduled to start from September 29, which falls during the ‘Shradh’ rituals to pay homage to ancestors and people generally abstain from starting new work.

Government expects about Rs 64,000 crore upfront collection this financial year.

While industry experts have been skeptical on success of spectrum sale due to high price of mobile airwaves, Deepak expressed confidence saying the buyers of airwaves in most expensive frequency band, 700 megahertz, will be able to save 70 per cent cost that they will spend in rolling out infrastructure.

He said that the auction has ample spectrum to resolve industry woes around service quality.

Deepak also said that government will take a call on proposed amendment in Trai Act to give regulator more power, “in few weeks”.

On long-pending VSNL’s (now Tata Communications) land issue, he said that the Department of Telecom is making effort to take possession of land lying with Tata Communications, in this financial year.

Erstwhile VSNL has 740.63 acres of surplus land valued at Rs 6,156.58 crore in 2012.

The issue of surplus land has been pending since 2002 when Tata Communications acquired the PSU. Following Tata’s acquisition, the surplus land was lying unused.

The firm has surplus land at five locations which include Dighi in Pune, Hali Shahar in Kolkata, Chattarpur and Greater Kailash in Delhi and Padianallur in Chennai.

As per 2012 valuation, the value of land at two locations in Delhi stood at Rs 5,375.52 crore, in Pune it is Rs 512.13 crore, while in Chennai and Kolkata, it is Rs 186.22 crore and 82.71 crore respectively.