August 10, 2022
5G auction probably in February 2022, may try in January: Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnav

Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnav said on Wednesday that the auction of 5G spectrum will “probably” take place in February 2022 and the government may also try for a January deadline.

Speaking to PTI, Vaishnav said that the telecom reform package approved by the cabinet is sufficient for the survival of the existing players, and will ensure strong competition in the sector. With more reforms and more structural changes that are in the pipeline, “more players should come”, he said.

Union Cabinet on Wednesday Approved A blockbuster relief package for the stressed telecom sector that includes a four-year break for companies from paying statutory dues, permission to share scarce airwaves, change in the definition of revenue on which levies are paid and automatic route 100% foreign investment through The due date for the reforms including the moratorium period is October 1.

“Today’s revamp package is good enough to ensure competition, certainly it’s good enough for players’ survival and ensuring that this is a healthy area where competition remains strong … I sincerely believe That once we make a little more changes that are there in the pipeline, more players will come,” Vaishnav said.

Underlining the government’s determination to pursue reforms to ensure the strong health of the telecom sector, the minister said, “We do not intend to stop.”

The Telecom Minister further said that he had spoken to all the major players in the sector after Wednesday’s briefing, and the companies are happy with the comprehensive set of measures announced.

“The three big players felt it was absolutely needed,” the minister said.

Asked about the timeline for 5G spectrum auction, the minister said it will happen in the last quarter of the current financial year.

Vaishnav said, “Maybe by February of 2022… I think we can try by January also.”

On the concerns of the industry over high spectrum prices, the minister said: “Trai is consulting… Let the TRAI consultations end and let them give their final report. This is the right time, I must speak”.

He said that the government would issue detailed circulars on each decision taken as part of the telecom package; He said the fine print of the redefinition of AGR – which seeks to exclude non-telecom items – is expected in 2-3 weeks.

“The thought process behind this reform package is looking at a time frame of the next 25 years… what do we need to improve, what reforms do we need to make, structural changes we need to make.

All that leads to benefits for the most vulnerable sections of the society, and better facilities for the marginalized and those living in remote areas,” the minister said.

He said there is a need for the telecom sector – which has been the backbone of the digital economy, especially during the pandemic – to be “strong and healthy” to promote inclusive growth and protect consumer interests and assured the participants that To do that they can invest more, he said.

Elaborating on the four-year break from paying the statutory dues for companies, and the equity component, he said once the moratorium ends and the annual installment period begins, further intervention is required depending on the circumstances. Or not,” we can convert that installment. In equities, therefore, the cash flow position may improve”.

Even if a company is unable to pay the interest during the moratorium period, they have the option to pay the interest amount through equity.

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