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DoT refers BSNL 4G spectrum to TRAI under pressure

This is being done in view of the Supreme Court earlier judgement that all natural resources be sold through auction only. The regulator will now examine whether government controlled entities could be exception to the rule set by the apex court.

IANS IANS
New Delhi Published on: March 17, 2019 15:07 IST
BSNL
Image Source : PTI

BSNL

The Department of Telecom has sent a communication to the sector regulator TRAI seeking its views on the possibility of giving 4G spectrum to BSNL outside auction under a preferential equity infusion route.

This is being done in view of the Supreme Court earlier judgement that all natural resources be sold through auction only. The regulator will now examine whether government controlled entities could be exception to the rule set by the apex court.

In a communication to TRAI recently, the DoT sought its views if 4G spectrum can be given to BSNL outside auction as the PSUs do not participate in the bidding process, official sources said.

In 2012, in a landmark judgement, the apex court had said all natural resources should be sold through bidding for maximistaion of value.

BSNL currently has 5Mhz of spectrum on 800 Mhz band . But for an all India scaling- up of 4G service roll out , it needs at least a cumulative 10Mhz radiowaves. In Rajasthan, the PSU will use 4G spectrum which it has on 800 Mhz band as per the plan.

Sources added DoT will abide by whatever views TRAI will give "but let's see what the regulator says".

Digital Communication Commission, the inter-ministerial panel had advised to DoT to take the comments of TRAI on this issue in view of the Supreme Court judgement that spectrum can not be allocated to telecom service providers without auction.

BSNL, which operates all over India sans Delhi and Mumbai, has been seeking 5Mhz of 4G spectrum on 2100 Mhz band for which it had sent a proposal approved to DoT. It intends to acquire 4G spectrum worth about Rs 13,885 crore.

The mechanism suggested by BSNL is: 50 per cent payment will be done upfront and rest 50 per cent will be made in 10 equal instalments. The upfront payment that BSNL wants is to be met through the equity route where government will be given preferential equity in lieu of the spectrum valued at Rs 6942.5 crore.

TRAI's views may take at least one-and-a-half months, sources said, adding therafter it will be easier for DoT to convince the finance ministry if TRAI gives go-ahead for this move. The Finance Ministry has been seeking the usefulness of such huge capital 

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