‘No spectrum auction where it is not feasible’

The minister also gave an example of the upcoming spectrum auction for telecommunication services in the country in the first week of June 2024.
‘No spectrum auction where it is not feasible’

NEW DELHI: The government is going through the auction route for spectrum allocation, except for narrowly defined items or cases in which auctioning is not feasible, said telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Tuesday.

The minister’s statement followed the Department of Telecommunications’ petition to the Supreme Court seeking clarity on whether it can allocate satellite spectrum for satellite communications in the country. “We are very clear that practically every spectrum is going to be, will be through auction, except for narrowly defined items for which auctioning is not feasible,” said the minister.

The minister also gave an example of the upcoming spectrum auction for telecommunication services in the country in the first week of June 2024.

Just before the Telecommunications Act passed in parliament, the government had filed a petition in the court seeking clarification on spectrum allocation to companies. On Monday, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) requested an urgent hearing on the matter.

The DoT’s plea comes in the wake of a 2012 Supreme Court judgment and a Presidential reference that prescribed competitive auctions for the distribution of natural, publicly-owned resources such as spectrum. However, the Telecommunications Act of 2023, passed in December 2023, mandates auctions for spectrum for terrestrial networks.

The allocation route will provide significant relief to space telecommunications service providers such as Elon Musk’s Starlink, Bharti Airtel’s OneWeb, and Amazons Project Kuiper, as they can obtain spectrum without going through an auction process.

In its petition, the government requested the court to issue appropriate clarifications that would allow the government to consider spectrum assignment through an administrative process if determined through due process in accordance with the law. Such assignment would be pursued if it serves governmental functions, public interest, or if auctions are not preferred due to technical or economic reasons.

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