New Delhi: Differences are understood to have emerged within the Telecom Ministry on whether to go for auction of the 2G spectrum in future or to go by the mechanism suggested by TRAI which recommended over six-time hike in rates.

This will be a part of the New Telecom Policy 2011 and detailed discussions are under way to arrive at a final decision in this regard.

Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal has already announced delinking spectrum from licence to enhance transparency.

According to sources, there is no accord as of now on whether to go by TRAI's report or make auction compulsory as and when operators apply for the 2G spectrum.

When contacted, Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for Telecom and IT, declined to comment on this but said, "there must be an appropriate market-driven price determined for spectrum going forward, and the government should realise reasonable resources for this scarce natural resource."

"And in pursuance to realise this, the government is talking to various stakeholders, including telecom service providers, TRAI and others," he said, adding “we shall assimilate all their views to realise this. How to achieve that that way forward also would be clear."

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in its report in February this year had recommended over six-fold increase in the price for start-up 2G spectrum at Rs 10,972.45 crore for pan-India licence compared to Rs 1,658 crore till now.

And each Mhz of additional spectrum held by operators beyond the contracted 6.2 Mhz should cost one-time Rs 4,571.87 crore (all India).

Terming the new recommendations of TRAI as "disastrous" for a majority of operators, the Cellular Operators Association of India, a lobby for GSM service providers, had said it is like "changing the goal posts in the middle of the game".

When asked whether auction may lead prices artificially high with several contenders in fray and thus increase tariffs, sources said auction for 3G spectrum proved all these theories wrong.

The government raked in over Rs 1.06 lakh crore for selling 3G spectrum and broadband wireless access spectrum last year and still the service providers have been offering 3G services at affordable prices or even at lower than 2G services in some cases.

On the status of TRAI's report on spectrum pricing, Pilot said DoT was analysing the report.

(Agencies)