The newly reconstituted Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM), which is to take vital decisions related to auction of spectrum, such as base price, will now be headed by the agriculture minister Sharad Pawar. He will replace Pranab Mukherjee who is a presidential nominee.
The meeting of Empowered Group of Ministers which was to take place on June 21 was deferred after finance ministry sought cancellation of the meeting.
This also put a question mark on whether the process of auction could be completed before August 3, the deadline set by the Supreme Court.
Apart from the decision on base or reserve price, the EGoM is expected to deliberate if telecom companies can mortgage spectrum or airwaves for seeking loans from the banks and financial institutions.
The decision taken by this EGoM will set the tone for telecom industry which is facing uncertainty and threat from foreign investors to exit from country if the decision does not suits them.
The high spectrum price has been vehemently opposed by telecom lobbies. The industry feels that high spectrum price will increase the tariff of telecom services in the range of 30 to 100%.
Also, Sistema JSFC, majority stakeholder in Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL), has said that it will quit India telecom business if the minimum price for bidding is not brought down to reasonable level.
SSTL is one of the companies whose mobile services permits were cancelled by the Supreme Court in February. They will have to obtain spectrum through auction to continue their services.
Trai had recommended that the reserve price for each unit of airwaves in the 1800 MHz band be set at 3,622 crore in the upcoming sale. The telecom department has proposed a 17% hike in the price proposed by Trai.
Trai is expected to make a presentation on the impact of spectrum costs on tariffs to the members of the EGoM during Thursday's meet.
Last month, the telecom ministry had asked the regulator to study the impact of high spectrum costs on consumers, mobile phone companies and government revenues, and submit its findings to the EGoM.