India delays mobile phone spectrum auction to Feb 3

NEW DELHI Sat Dec 28, 2013 6:44pm IST

An employee demonstrates a mobile phone to customers at an electronics store in New Delhi September 4, 2013. REUTERS/Mansi Thapliyal/Files

An employee demonstrates a mobile phone to customers at an electronics store in New Delhi September 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mansi Thapliyal/Files

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's planned mobile phone spectrum auction will start on February 3, the government said on Saturday, delaying the bidding by 10 days from the original schedule.

The telecommunications ministry will auction airwaves in the 900 and 1800 megahertz frequency bands in the auction, which is crucial for leading carriers Bharti Airtel Ltd (BRTI.NS) and Vodafone Group Plc's (VOD.L) local unit to renew their permits in some key cities.

The government did not give a reason for the delay in a revised auction schedule posted on the telecommunications ministry's website, but it has yet to take a decision on a change recommended by the sector regulator in the annual fee carriers pay for using spectrum.

Carriers had urged the government to decide the annual spectrum fee before the start of the auction.

The government aims to raise about 110 billion rupees from the auction. Prospective bidders will have to submit applications by January 15 to participate in the auction, according to the new schedule.

(Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy, editing by David Evans)

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