With sector under stress, spectrum auction may be pushed to next fiscal

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 18, 2019 Published on December 17, 2019

But govt keen on broadband push; vows services in all villages by 2022

The government on Tuesday has hinted that the telecom spectrum auction may be pushed to next financial year from the earlier estimated timeline of this financial year.

“It (auctions) will happen by March-April and the Digital Communications Commission (DCC) will meet on this,” Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, told reporters here. According to senior officials from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the department is awaiting Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendations on the auctions, which are expected soon, and accordingly, the DCC will meet on December 20 to discuss the issues.

Earlier this year, Prasad said that the auctions will be conducted within this financial year. However, looking at the present condition of the telecom operators, the industry is against the auctions. Prasad on Tuesday also launched the ambitious National Broadband Mission, entailing stakeholder investment of ₹7 lakh crore in the coming years and promised broadband access in all villages by 2022.

“By 2022, we will take broadband to all the villages of India...The number of towers in the country, which is about 5.65 lakh, will be increased to 10 lakh,” he said, adding that the mission also envisages increasing fiberisation of towers to 70 per cent from 30 per cent at present.

The mission will enable strengthening of technological infrastructure for education, health, entrepreneurship and development, he said. “We will also take the speeds up to 50 Mbps in a phased manner,” he added.

Road to digital future

Overall, the broadband mission aims to fast-track growth of digital communications infrastructure, bridge the digital divide, facilitate digital empowerment and inclusion, and provide affordable and universal access of broadband for all. It will lay emphasis on universality, affordability and quality of services.

Published on December 17, 2019
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