The government has no immediate plan to provide telecom companies with an option to buy spectrum annually, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said today. The minister also said that the government has not yet decided to conduct another auction of airwaves soon. “The government has not yet made any plan to provide industry with an option to buy spectrum every year,” he said in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha.
Responding to a separate query on whether the government is considering another spectrum auction very soon, the minister said, “The government has not yet decided to conduct another spectrum auction immediately.”
In February, then telecom secretary J S Deepak had said that the government is looking to make spectrum auction an annual event.
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“We are not worried if there is no demand for spectrum. We are interested in giving the industry an opportunity to buy spectrum,” Deepak had said on the sidelines of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona just a day before he was named India’s next Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) from June this year.
Sinha said his department has conducted spectrum auction every year from 2012 in various bands of airwaves as per availability.
“In the last spectrum auction conducted in October 2016, spectrum was put on auction in 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz bands,” he said.
Also, the government has permitted sharing and trading of spectrum among telecom service providers.
“Auction, sharing and trading all alleviate shortage of spectrum, besides yielding other desirable outcomes,” he added.
On Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF), the minister said that Rs 678.85 crore has been disbursed to state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd towards implementation of telecom infrastructure development schemes in inaccessible, rural and remote areas for fulfilling USOF obligation.