Virtually ruling out any sale of spectrum this fiscal, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on Monday said 300 Mhz of the radio waves would be made available by 2017 and another 200 Mhz by 2020.
“We will ensure adequate availability of spectrum and its allocation in a transparent manner through market-related processes,” Mr. Sibal said while unveiling the draft New Telecom Policy, 2011.
Earlier, the ministry had indicated that one slot of broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum could be auctioned in the current financial year as it was available throughout the country.
The Finance Ministry, which is under immense pressure to meet the fiscal deficit target during the current financial year, has also written a letter to the Department of Telecom (DoT) to auction spectrum to earn additional revenues.
Asked whether spectrum would be auctioned this year, Mr. Sibal said, “It looks difficult this year.”
Mr. Sibal also said that any allocation of spectrum would be delinked from all future licences. Till now, all licences for mobile telecom services were given bundled with start-up spectrum of 4.4 Mhz.
“We shall enact a Spectrum Act which inter-alia deals with all issues connected with wireless (spectrum) licences and their terms and conditions,” the Minister said, adding that there would be a periodic audit of spectrum allocated to service providers.
The audit would ensure that spectrum, being a scarce resource, is being utilised effectively and efficiently.
The draft policy also talks about permitting spectrum pooling, sharing and later, trading for “optimal and efficient” utilisation of the frequency.
Mr. Sibal said that the ministry would be preparing a roadmap for availability of additional spectrum every five years.
No distinction between local, STD calls
Telecom users will be able to avail free roaming and keep their phone numbers even if they switch service providers anywhere in the country, as per the draft New Telecom Policy unveiled by the government on Monday.
The distinction between local and STD calls would vanish, as the policy aims at a ‘one-nation-one-licence’ regime.
Telecom operators would not require separate licences for operations in various parts of the country and a single licence would suffice.
“We will seek TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) recommendations on new licences, migration to new licences and exit policy,” Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said while releasing the draft policy.
Keywords: National Telecommunications Policy-2011