Manoj Sinha, who has just taken over as the new telecom minister from Ravi Shankar Prasad, has said that the spectrum auction will be held by September this year. The Indian government is expecting to raise around Rs 5.66 lakh crore from the forthcoming auctions if all the spectrum is sold at the reserve price, recommended by the telecom regulator, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).
The Union Cabinet had last month approved the spectrum auction plan and sent the spectrum usage charge (SUC) matter to the telecom regulator for another review. The Trai has been urged to speedily give its opinion, following which the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will make its final suggestions to the Cabinet.
The telecom department will float the rules for the auction once the Cabinet finalises the SUC and could hold the sale 45-60 days later, media reports said.
The upcoming spectrum auction will be the largest ever in terms of quantum - over 2200 MHz - to be offered across 3G and 4G bands, including the coveted 700 MHz for the first time. However, industry watchers are expecting a lukewarm response from the industry due to the pricing concerns and debt situation of the Indian telecom operators
Sinha, who is continuing to be Minister of State for Railways, addressed his first media briefing since assuming office on Wednesday. Sinha has already started following the footsteps of his predecessor Prasad, who had dedicated much of his time to the call drop issue during his tenure.
Sinha, while informing the media, said the issue of call drops was serious and while the ministry is working on a long-term plan to resolve the matter, the industry should continue to invest to improve the situation.
The Minister said that the Indian government will be able to share further details on steps to resolve the problem in about 20 days. He said that consumers should see significant improvement in the situation in the next four to five months.