Barcelona: India is looking at holding spectrum auctions for the fourth generation (4G) mobile services by the end of this year, besides finalising plans to sell off radio waves for the 2G services, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal has said.
"By the end of the year, we are actually going to auction 4G (spectrum). That is what our intent is. We have enough spectrum now to share with everybody," he said at the India Day function organised by his ministry at the Mobile World Congress here.
Sibal said the government will have enough radio waves for all operators after it is released from the defence services as well as the cancellation of 122 2G new licences by the Supreme Court in the 2G spectrum allocation case.
Sibal added, however, that the government does not want to put all the spectrum for auction at one go but the final decision will depend a lot on the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).
"In fact, we don't think that we are going to put all the spectrum for auction. But that depends on what Mr Sarma (Trai Chairman) does for us. The idea being that we should come up with enough spectrum to get reasonable price for ourselves," he said.
The minister said that government will auction 2G spectrum as well that which will be vacated by the cancellation of licences following Supreme Court order.
"We will auction spectrum. When that auction will take place is something that we have to work out. The procedure is laborious, the procedures are complex," he said.
The minister said the procedure for holding spectrum auctions should be very transparent.
Talking about the potential participants in the auction, Sibal said he wants everybody to take part in it.
"Lot of people are asking, will everybody be allowed to participate; in how much tranches will spectrum be sold; who will be allowed to participate? All these decisions will be taken hopefully in the next one month or so but in any case it will not take more than four months," he said.
Some observers at the annual event here said, meanwhile, that if auctions for 2G and 4G services are held around the same time they may put constrains on investors and funding of the projects.
The minister said he will approach the Cabinet in next 3-4 weeks on issues like the pricing of spectrum and other decisions vital for the new policy framework.
He said he will announce the contours of National Telecom Policy 2011 in April which will present the roadmap for the telecom sector over next 10-15 years which was missing in previous telecom policy of 1999.
"There was crisis in 1999 and we resolved that crisis. These were entrepreneurs who were finding very difficult and migrated. This lead to enormous growth in the telecom sector," he said.
Sibal said the earlier policy did not have a framework under which an stakeholders could invest for 10-15 years, and it lacked the vision for long term goals.
"There was a migration package but there was no vision that was put in place. Migration package was put in place when nobody was looking at telecom revolution," he said.
He added that the vision was limited to the fact to get telecom sector working. That vision was successful but there was no long term plan.
"We have reached the situation where we need long term plan. We need to make sure that investor who comes to India should be clear as to what road investor should take for next 10 to 15 years," Sibal said.