August 13, 2020

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Indian 5G spectrum auction by year-end or early 2020: IT Minister

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India’s Telecom Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, recently announced that the 5G spectrum auction will be conducted this year-end or early next year.

The communications policy is already in place, and by the end of this year or the beginning of next year, the government expects to auction the spectrum.

The government is confident that the auction of the spectrum will be done fairly and transparently, the Minister said at an event in Mumbai.

According to news reports, earlier in June, the Department of Telecom (DoT) outlined plans to hold the next spectrum sale first since 2016 by December 2019. Under the scheme, the government plans to auction around 8,293.95 MHz of airwaves at an estimated total base price of IN 5.86 trillion (about US $79.96 billion).

The DoT has suggested a base price for 5G airwaves at IN 492 crores (US $69.2 million) per MHz and proposed a sale of a minimum 20 MHz blocks, which would mean a telco spending close to IN 10,000 crore (about US $1.47 billion) for 20 MHz, and IN 50,000 crores (US $7.39 billion) for 100 MHz.

The Minister said that the department will “surely look into all the issues of the telecom sector.” Many have already been taken up, and the government will continue to pursue them.

The government will be open to assist, facilitate, guide, and motivate, but in turn will expect telecom operators to reinforce their management, technology, and services, he added.

At the event, the Minister launched a maritime communication service. It aims to provide broadband services to the maritime sector. Maritime connectivity will enable support to those at sea by providing data and video services to sailing vessels, cruise liners, and ships in India using satellite technology.

The service is being launched under the in-flight and maritime communications (IFMC) license announced by the government in December 2018. IFMC allows voice and internet services while flying over the Indian skies and sailing in Indian waters, both for international and domestic aircraft and vessels.

At the event, the Minister also launched a pilot project in Maharashtra that can trace stolen mobile phones.

Digital inclusion is the essence of Digital India, and the government plans to leverage the use of technology for it. Linking Jan Dhan accounts with mobile phones and Aadhar cards is an example of it, he said.

Last year, OpenGov reported that the India Mobile Congress (IMC) held an event to discuss the future of 5G in the country. The government announced its commitment of the industry to roll-out one million WiFi hotspots in the country by December 2019.

The economic benefits from the 5G technology are far-reaching. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Committee on Digital Economic Policy, stated that 5G technologies will help increase the country’s GDP, generate employment, and digitise the economy.

For India, 5G provides an opportunity for the industry to reach out to global markets, and consumers to gain with the economies of scale.

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