(MENAFN- AsiaNet News) Union Cabinet on Thursday approved telecom spectrum auctions at the base price of Rs 96,317.65 crore.
The Union Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, granted approval to the Department of Telecommunications' proposal to conduct a spectrum auction, facilitating the allocation of spectrum to successful bidders for telecom services. This move is aimed at enhancing the quality and coverage of telecom services for consumers, as per a government statement.
The spectrum auction will encompass bands such as 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3300 MHz, and 26 GHz, with a validity period of 20 years. A total of 10,523.15 MHz is being offered, valued at Rs 96,317.65 crore at the reserve price.
Additionally, the Cabinet established a Committee of Secretaries (CoS) to explore re-farming existing spectrum usage, with the objective of augmenting spectrum availability to meet future telecommunication service demands. Furthermore, the Cabinet sanctioned a proposal for spectrum requirements in the 700 MHz band for rail-based urban/regional transit systems, like the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC), for Automatic Train Protection (ATP) systems and operations.
The government emphasized Bharat's prominence in digital technologies, highlighting its recognized fast-paced 5G rollout globally. Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur noted the presence of 13 crore 5G subscribers in India, with expectations of further growth. Thakur highlighted the auction's potential to enhance 5G services and revealed that telecom operators have deployed 4,20,000 sites thus far.
As outlined in the Interim Budget documents released on February 1, the government aims to garner Rs 1.20 lakh crore from communication services in the fiscal year 2024-25 through license fees and spectrum charges from telecom players.
The Union Cabinet also informed that reserve prices for various bands have been revised based on recommendations from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is expected to issue a notice inviting applications (NIA) soon, initiating auction rules and processes. Typically, auctions commence 45-50 days post-NIA issuance.
Addressing the allocation of spectrum for Indian Railways' safety and security systems, the Cabinet decided to reserve an additional 5 MHz in the 700 MHz spectrum. This decision aims to bolster passenger safety and operational efficiency across regional and urban rail-based transit systems. TRAI sought stakeholders' views on the assignment of extra spectrum to Indian Railways on February 7, following DoT's mid-2023 communication indicating the railways' need for additional spectrum in the 700 MHz band.
Lastly, the Cabinet established a committee chaired by the Cabinet Secretary to oversee spectrum reforms, involving representatives from pertinent stakeholders to finalize plans for spectrum band re-farming.
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