The Cabinet on Thursday approved spectrum auction in all the available spectrum in 800, 900, 1800, 2100, 2300, 2500, 3300 MHz and 26 GHz band. As recommended by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), reserve price of this spectrum is ₹96,317.65 crore.

“The reserve prices for various bands have been revised using suitable indexation...spectrum held by certain companies undergoing insolvency is expiring in 2024 on completion of the term. This spectrum will also be put to auction,” the government said.

“Earlier India was dependent on many other countries to import in the technology sector, but in Aatmanirbhar Bharat, 5G technology is built in India and the way we have expanded 5G network we have left Europe and other developed nations behind. We are hopeful that this spectrum auction will benefit the end users and telecom service providers,” Anurag Thakur, Minister of Information and Broadcasting told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.

Spectrum allocation

A total of 10,513.15 MHz of spectrum will be put to auction including 118.75 MHz (paired) of 800 MHz, 118 MHz (paired) in 900 MHz, 221.4 MHz (paired) in 1800 MHz, 125 MHz (paired) in 2100 MHz, 60 MHz in 2300 MHz, 70 MHz in 2500 MHz, 1,100 MHz in 3300 MHz and 8,700 MHz in 26 GHz.

It has also approved reserved spectrum for safety of railway/RRTS/metro passengers, and set up committee for spectrum reforms.

The Centre had earlier assigned 5 MHz spectrum in 700 MHz for Indian Railways for deployment of Kavach – automatic train protection system. It had provisionally assigned 5 MHz spectrum in 700 MHz band for National Capital Region Transport Corporation.

“It has also been decided that this 5 MHz spectrum will be assigned to multiple regional and urban rail-based transit systems and considering the additional requirement for national rollout of Kavach, additional 5 MHz in 700 MHz spectrum will be reserved for Indian Railways,” the government said adding that this will improve passenger safety and operations of these transportation systems.

The last telecom spectrum auction was held in 2022 and the government fetched ₹1,50,173 crore. Back then a total of 72 GHz of radiowaves worth at least ₹4.3-lakh crore was put on the block for auction, of which 75 per cent were sold.

Spectrum in 600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3300 MHz, and 26 GHz bands were put for auction, and Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio was the highest bidder buying radiowaves worth ₹88,078 crore.

Easing travel

Meanwhile, the Cabinet also approved six multi-tracking projects across Railways to facilitate ease of travelling, minimise logistics cost, reduce oil imports and lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The financial outgo of the projects will be around ₹12,343 crore with likely completion by 2029-30.

The six projects will cover 18 districts in six States including Rajasthan, Assam, Telangana, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Nagaland, increasing the existing network of Railways by 1020 km and will provide employment of about three-crore man-days to the people of the States.

The Cabinet also approved the “Pradhan Mantri Matsya Kisan Samridhi Sah-Yojana (PM-MKSSY)“, a Central Sector Sub-scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada for formalisation of the fisheries sector and supporting fisheries micro and small enterprises with an investment of over ₹6,000 crore over a period of next four years from FY 2023-24 to FY 2026-27 in all States and Union Territories.