Info-tech

Finance Ministry asks DoT to auction more spectrum this year

Thomas K. Thomas New Delhi | Updated on June 12, 2011




If the Finance Ministry has its way then there will be another round of spectrum auction this year.

The Ministry has asked the Department of Telecom to identify airwaves that can be sold so that there is no shortfall in non-tax revenue. The Finance Ministry expects to raise nearly Rs 30,000 crore from the telecom sector, according to the general budget for 2011-12 tabled in February.

“The non-tax receipt from the auction of telecom spectrum is an important and substantial component of the overall non-tax receipts projected in BE 2011-12. I would request you to take all the necessary steps so that there is no shortfall against the projected receipts from the auction of telecom spectrum,” Ms Sushama Nath, Finance Secretary, wrote in a letter to the DoT.

“I would also request you to explore and identify expeditiously surplus telecom spectrum which can be put to auction in 2011-12,” she added.

The Government had got over Rs 1 lakh crore from selling 3G and broadband spectrum last year which helped in bridging the fiscal deficit. But the problem for the DoT now will be to identify airwaves that can be sold.

At present there is only one slot of 20 Mhz of broadband spectrum in 2.3 Ghz band available in about 19 circles.

The Defence forces and the Space Department are sitting on a lot of airwaves but they won't release it any time soon.

According to the DoT estimates, Defence forces have 230 Mhz of spectrum which can be used for mobile services, which will not only help in meeting the country's communication needs over the next five years, but also generate additional revenue of Rs 90,000 crore for the exchequer.

The other issue is whether telecom companies have the appetite to participate in another auction so soon.

>tkt@thehindu.co.in

Published on May 24, 2011

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