We will hold a spectrum auction within this year: Ravi Shankar Prasad

Our Bureau | | Updated on: Jun 03, 2019
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Telecom Minister prioritises 5G trials and revival of BSNL, MTNL on Day 1 in office

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the government will hold a spectrum auction within this year, and also start 5G trials in the next 100 days.

Prasad — who took office as the Minister on Monday — said that he would also prioritise the revival of crisis-ridden Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL).

However, the two companies will have to reciprocate and adopt a professional attitude, he said.

“I am of the belief that in the current calendar year, we will auction spectrum. We have adequate spectrum available. TRAI (The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has given its recommendations,” Prasad said.

Reviewing proposals

“We have a system of a standing committee and finance committee, and they are examining it (the recommendations). Once they come up with solutions, we have to go to the Cabinet and appoint an auctioneer,” he added.

TRAI has recommended the auction of about 8,644 MHz of radiowaves — including those for 5G services — at an estimated total base price of ₹4.9 lakh crore.

However, the financially stressed industry has contended that the prices are unaffordable.

Other major issues on the Minister’s immediate agenda include creating a ‘Broadband Readiness Index’ which reflects the realities of the Indian market, fast-tracking of five-lakh WiFi hotspots, and promoting telecom manufacturing in India.

The Index will be based on parameters such as infrastructure, approval processes, and utilisation of high-speed Internet.

Getting 5G-ready

On 5G, the Minister said that it will play a major role in digital inclusion, and the government will strive towards this goal.

Another area of focus would be channelising the start-up movement in India for the proliferation of 5G.

Prasad also said that he will soon call the telecom operators to hear their concerns, so that they can be addressed quickly. “I will hold consultations with the telecom industry to understand their issues and challenges, and we will work towards addressing those issues,” he said.

Published on June 03, 2019

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