The Department of Telecommunications or DoT is mulling over conducting fresh round of auction to sell the entire spectrum left unsold in the last sale, including in the super premium coveted 700 Mhz band, according to a report by the Economic Times.
Telecom secretary JS Deepak told the publication that the department will send a reference back to the Telecom regulatory Authority of India (Trai) for pricing.
The government is expecting overall investments in the country’s telecom sector to reach $10 billion or Rs 68,000 crore by the end of this fiscal year, up from $1.3 billion in previous year. The top official also said that that increase is mainly due to a number of policy reforms taken by the government.
The DoT expects additional investments to come from virtual network operators and from towers segment. Notably, a majority of foreign direct investment (FDI) has come through equity infusion by British telecom major Vodafone Plc into its Indian subsidiary earlier this year.
Deepak also informed that the Telecom Commission has approved phase II of Bharat Net which will digitally connect 1,50,000 Gram Panchayats (GPS) by September 2018.
“By March end, the department will complete phase I, which entails connecting 1,00,000 GPS. 70,000 GPS in the second phase will have underground fibre, 48,000 will have overhead fibre (hilly areas), 2,000 GPSes will be connected through satellite (in forests) and 30,000 will be wireless. This is a more flexible and area-based strategy to ensure timely implementation. Secondly, implementation will be both through private and public sector,” he was quoted as saying.
He however added that the government needs to bring certain reforms for the project such as allocation of backhaul spectrum and the use of spectrum in higher frequency bands, such as 3 GHz.
The department will also work towards ensuring a level playing field for Indian telecom operators, especially after the entry of Reliance Jio, which increased competition in the country.