5G trials to be initiated in 100 days: Ravi Shankar Prasad
New Delhi: Newly elected Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has announced the debut auction of fifth-generation (5G) spectrum this year along with trials within 100 days. The minister further said that he would also hold talks with the debt-laden telecom industry to figure out its financial concerns and address them.
The decision to auction airwaves soon is of significance as the sale proceeds are a major source of revenue for the exchequer. There was no auction in financial years 2017-18 and 2018-19. The government had in 2016-17 raised ₹65,789 crore, a fraction of the ₹5.63 trillion worth of spectrum it had put up for sale.
“This calendar year we should auction…we have adequate spectrum,” Prasad said.
In August 2018, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had recommended to DoT auction of 20 megahertz (MHz) blocks in the 3,300-3,600MHz spectrum band, the airwaves earmarked for 5G, at ₹492 crore per MHz. The regulator also suggested reserve prices for non-5G bands.
The decision on an early auction assumes significance as it is a major source of government revenue. The government had raised ₹65,789 crore the last time airwaves were auctioned in 2016-17.
The government also aims to roll out 500,000 public Wi-Fi hotspots on priority, Prasad said. This is expected to boost digital connectivity, shift a big chunk of internet traffic from mobile networks to cheaper and faster Wi-Fi networks, ease network congestion and potentially bring down call drops.