‘Balancing service to poor, spectrum revenue is key’

There is public good element in spectrum pricing: Minister

December 13, 2021 10:28 pm | Updated 10:28 pm IST - NEW DELHI

NEW DELHI 15-09-2021: Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw briefing media on the cabinet decisions, in New Delhi on Wednesday . Photo SANDEEP SAXENA

NEW DELHI 15-09-2021: Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw briefing media on the cabinet decisions, in New Delhi on Wednesday . Photo SANDEEP SAXENA

Hinting at possible reduction in spectrum prices, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Monday said with ‘public good’ element in spectrum pricing now recognised, consultation process is on in the country to strike a balance between maximising revenue and maximising services to the poor.

Addressing the CII Partnership Summit 2021, Mr. Vaishnaw, who is also the Minister for Electronics and IT, added that there was a need for a new world order — similar to the coming up of the United Nations, to govern the impact of big tech on democracy and safety of users.

Replying to a question, the Minister said, “on the spectrum side, we as a nation and the entire society has today recognised that there is a public good element in spectrum pricing.”

“Earlier spectrum was seen as a resource which should maximise revenue. Today, there is a balance in thought process that between maximising revenue and providing maximising service to the poor… somewhere the balance should be struck… that balance is today in a consultation process in the country,” he added.

The Minister added that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will come up with the final document based on which the government will take a decision, “but the thought process is that we have to make it affordable.. That's a very very significant change in thinking. COVID made us realise the importance of telecom when everything went digital.”

Talking about challenges faced by the world as a whole, the Minister said, “the impact of big tech on our democracy, on our society, on safety and security of our children. It is a major thing how it can change our thinking, can affect our decision making, can change our behavioural aspects, can make a fundamental difference in any election… so it's a very major challenge that the entire humanity is facing today.”

Asked a question on the issue of cybersafety and data privacy and India’s role in these issues, the Minister said, “I think the time has come when we should all have a new thought process, a new agreement on this… kind of the way the United Nations came up, the way a new global order emerged in 1940s after the second world war. A similar attempt is needed at this point of time. India would participate in this. India would take lead in this and we are very much deeply involved in these discussions at every level within our country and in all international forums.”

He noted that today the whole world is facing challenges related to cybersecurity, adding that there has to be an understanding between like-minded countries that this is a common threat. Additionally, he added that countries using cyberthreats as a state weapon must be categorically told that this is not the way in which humanity has to move forward.

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