The auctioneer will conduct the upcoming spectrum sale, including for 5G radio waves, by September as an inter-ministerial panel has recently approved the draft Request for Proposal (RFP-tender document) for the same.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) hopes to have the auctioneer in place by early-September and the matter is likely to be taken up in the next meeting of Digital Communications Commission (DCC) this month, as per a PTI report.
Once DCC takes a view on the issue, the RFP will be floated. The inter-ministerial committee, apart from officials from the DoT, has representation from the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Electronics and IT, and Niti Aayog, among others. The government has earlier made it clear that it wanted to go ahead with the spectrum sale, including that of 5G in 2019 itself, despite the telecom industry’s repeated requests that prices proposed are too high.
The last spectrum auction in October 2016 saw only 40 per cent of the spectrum offered being sold. The government had garnered Rs 65,789 crore from the sale of just 965 MHz, out of 2,354.44 MHz that was offered at the base price of Rs 5.63 lakh crore.
According to analysts, this time too, there is a fear that the debt-laden telecom industry might give the auction a miss if base prices fixed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) are not brought down.
The government, which didn’t auction any spectrum in 2017-18 and 2018-19, wants to hold the nation’s biggest auction of over 8,000 MHz of airwaves this year.
TRAI had recently reiterated its recommendations on base price and valuation of the spectrum, making it clear to the DoT that it has considered “all relevant factors” while giving views on prices.
Last month, amid an industry discontent over the pricing of spectrum, the DCC had decided to approach Trai to reconsider its recommendations to ensure competition and greater participation of players in the auction.
Meanwhile, as India is getting 5G-ready, participation of the Chinese tech giant Huawei in the trial process is still not clear. There are high chances that India might keep Huawei away from its 5G rollout, according to a statement made by a senior member of National Security Advisory Board (NSAB).
“When it comes to security, we cannot take any chances,” said V Kamakoti, NSAB member, without naming Huawei, during a meet on 5G rollout in India at the Indian Council of World Affairs in New Delhi.
While there is still no concrete evidence of the firm posing a security threat to any country, it has, over the years, earned reputation of spying and passing crucial information to Beijing. India, which is in the initial stage of moving towards the 5G technology, is yet to take a call on whether it intends to stop Huawei or allow it.