Union Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said on Friday that the next round of Spectrum auctions will be held by December and the trials for 5G services with radio waves allotted by the ministry will commence in the next 100 days. Prasad has assured that India has adequate spectrum availability.
The Minister, for whom this would be second stint at the Telecom Ministry, spoke on other related issues too:
On the issue of allowing Chinese equipment vendor Huawei into the 5G trial, the minister has said: “The issue is to be looked into seriously; there is a security aspect before we take a call on it. It is not a matter of technology alone”.
On industry’s view of 5G spectrum prices as proposed by the TRAI being on the higher side impacting the bidding possibilities, Prasad said: “The finance committee of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), which will look at the TRAI recommendations, will come to a solution if there is need for more consultations with TRAI.” The next step is to go to the cabinet, appoint auctioneer and start auctioning.
Taking note of the poor financial health of the sector due to low tariffs and heightened competition, the minister said he would go deep into the matter and would consult the industry too. He also said the government would fast-track of five lakh wifi hotspots and promote telecom manufacturing.
On the two ailing PSUs of DoT whose revival is awaited, he said BSNL-MTNL revival will be on priority of his ministry and their existence is required to maintain a balance in the telecom ecosystem.“To maintain a sober equilibrium and a healthy balance, we need PSUs also in the field. It is in national interest to have the PSUs,” Prasad said. On BSNL MTNL-merger issue, he said it involves a detailed examination and the government wants both to be strong.
Perform or Perish
While standing by the PSUs for revival, the minister had a strong warning to BSNL-MTNL to perform better and be professional in their actions. “They (BSNL-MTNL) also need to become professional. We would like to see how they adopt high standards of professionalism. My message is very clearly — while we work towards the steps so that they are revived, they have to respond with professional attitude and also competitiveness”.
National Broadband Mission
His other announcements included launching National Broadband Mission under which ‘national fibre authority’ will also be operational. “The Broadband Readiness Index, which will also be launched reflecting all the ICT parameters of India in a readymade manner. This is because many times global indices do not match the readiness of India indices so an India-specific index on broadband will be worked out”, he said.