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5G spectrum auctions are "most likely" to be held in February 2022 and the government may even try for a January timeline, Telecommunications Minister "Ashwini Vaishnaw," said on Wednesday (September 15, 2021).
Speaking to PTI, Vaishnaw said that the telecom reforms package cleared by the Cabinet is adequate for the survival of existing players, and will ensure robust competition in the sector. With more reforms, and more structural changes, that are in the pipeline, "more players should come", he added.
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved an epic relief package for the strained telecom sector, which includes four years of layoffs for companies that don't have to pay the statutory fees, allowing the waves to be shared, change in the definition of revenue on which levies are paid and 100 percent foreign investment through the automatic route. The designated date for the reforms, including the deferral period, is October 1.
"Today's reform package is good enough for ensuring competition, definitely it is good enough for survival of the players and making sure this is a healthy sector where competition stays robust...I honestly believe once we do a little bit of more changes that are there in pipeline, more players will come," Vaishnaw said.
"We do not intend to stop," the minister said underlining the government's firm resolve to push ahead with reforms, in order to ensure robust health of the telecom sector.
The Minister of Telecom added that after Wednesday's briefing he spoke with all key players in the sector and that the companies are satisfied with the wide range of measures that were announced.
Asked about the 5G spectrum auction timelines, the minister said it will be held during the last quarter of this fiscal.
"Most probably February of 2022...I think by January also, we can try," Vaishnaw said.
Regarding industry concerns about high spectrum prices, the minister said: "TRAI is consulting...Let TRAI consultations end and let them give their final report. That is the right time, I should speak".