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DoT panel to meet next month on spectrum pricing: Telecom secretary Anshu Prakash

NEW DELHI: The Digital Communications Committee (DCC), the highest decision making body of the telecom sector, will meet next month to take a call on reserve prices of airwaves that will be put up for sale in the upcoming auction, said telecom secretary Anshu Prakash.

The department of telecommunications (DoT) intends to hold spectrum auctions latest by January 2020, and will take a call on the reserve prices in the interim.

"Trai has given the recommendations on auction prices, the DCC will consider it and then we will have to take a cabinet approval. It will be premature for me to say what will be the decision," Prakash said when asked about the possible decision that the committee may take.

"We will hold the meeting sometime next month," he added, when asked about the timing of the meeting.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has suggested that all airwaves be sold, setting the stage for mega sale of over 8000 MHz of radiowaves, at a start price of over Rs 5.7 lakh crore. The government is however, yet to take a call on this price level, which telecom companies have flagged as exorbitantly high and unsustainable.

"We're planning to do the auctions by December end or January. If we have to hold the spectrum auction by December-January, then we will have to take a call in the interim period," Prakash said, at the sidelines of a government event.

To set the ball rolling for the auctions, the government, in August-end, had announced it will invite bids for selection of agency that will conduct spectrum auctions in various bands, including 5G.

Prakash however maintained that the DoT will take a call on Huawei, which will be in the best interest of the country, even as the telecom gear maker seeks clarity from the government on participation in 5G trials and future partnerships for gear deployment in India.

"Whatever is in the national interest, will be done," he said. The comments came after Huawei CEO Jay Chen said that it is ready to invest in an export oriented 5G manufacturing facility in India, but any expansion would be contingent on the government’s nod for its participation in 5G.

On the issue of revival of state run telcos BSNL and MTNL, the telecom secretary said that the DoT is, "working on a revival package," and "actively considering how best to address," the issue at hand.
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