Govt plans to raise USD 84 billion from airwaves auction in 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA Government hopes to rake in around $83.8 billion (Rs 5.83 trillion rupees) from its latest round of airwaves auction this year. The proposed sale comes at a time when the Indian telecom carriers are struggling amid cut-throat competition which has depleted their earnings while forcing some of them to exit the market.

The Central government is planning to sell 8,600 megahertz of telecom airwaves across multiple frequency bands, a telecom ministry official told Bloomberg.

Spectrum auctions which are an important source of revenue for the government in the past are coming at a difficult time for India’s mobile phone operators.

Meanwhile, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had last week 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.

“This calendar year, we should auction. We have adequate spectrum,” Prasad told reporters after taking charge of the ministry on June 3.

Referring to the next-generation mobile communications standard that supports faster data speeds, the minister said, “As far as the 5G network is concerned, we will start trials in 100 days.”

Prasad affirmed his commitment to try and bring greater synergies between the IT and telecom ministries. The government’s decision to put up an early auction is a significant step as it is a major source of revenue for it. Rs 65,789 crore was raised in the airwaves auction held by the government in 2016-17.

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