The government has deferred its decision on the reserve price for the 2G spectrum auction, with the meeting of Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) postponing the issue indefinitely.
"The EGoM meeting has been deferred. No new date has been fixed yet," Department of Telecommunications (DoT) official.
No reason had been given for the postponement. The EGoM, headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, was to take a final call on 2G reserve price and policy for auctioning spectrum.
The finance minister, who heads 12 EGoMS including the one on spectrum, would have to resign before he files nomination for the President's post. Importantly, all 2G related issued have to finalised this month and spectrum auction to be completed before the 31 August deadline set by India's Supreme Court.
In its meeting earlier this month, the EGoM had decided to auction a minimum 10 MHZ megahertz spectrum, but stopped short of taking a decision on the controversial proposal to redistribute the 900 MHz spectrum. The panel also did not arrive at a conclusive decision on spectrum pricing and auction.
The EGoM had decided to sell up to 13.75 MHz of spectrum in the 1800 MHz band in the upcoming auctions, which enables at least two operators winning back their cancelled permits. The government can garner a minimum of Rs49,800 crore if 13.75 MHz spectrum are sold at TRAI recommended prices.
The nine-member EGoM did not take any decision on the reserve price for spectrum to be sold in the auctions, but would stick to the August 31 deadline as mandated early by the Supreme Court.
However, the controversial proposal to refarm or redistribute the 900 MHz spectrum of existing operators was not discussed. These airwaves are primarily held by Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, and are considered ideal for operating second-generation, or 2G, networks. The EGoM is slated to meet again this month to finalise the minimum price for spectrum.