India’s 3G auction set for further delay

NEW DELHI, December 29, 2009 (AFP) – India’s long-awaited auction for third generation (3G) mobile telecom services has been delayed again and will miss a January 14 deadline, officials said Tuesday. “It will obviously not be on January 14. We will announce it (a new date for the auction) soon on our website,” an official in the telecoms department told Dow Jones Newswires, asking not to be named.

The Business Standard newspaper reported that the auction, which has already been delayed several times, was now likely to take place at the end of February.

The government has said it aims to raise 250 billion rupees (5.38 billion dollars) from the sale of 3G bandwidth that would allow high-speed Internet, video downloads and other sophisticated services on cellular telephones.

The money raised from the auction is set to help plug a yawning fiscal deficit.

Last week, Telecommunications Minister A. Raja had assured that the auction would be held on time despite his ministry missing a deadline to send out invitations to potential bidders.