Gold Silver Reports — Biggest Issue of Spectrum Shortage Resolved: Mittal — Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said the just-concluded auction of airwaves had resolved one of the largest issues that the industry faced inadequate spectrum and that it was “not a failure.“
The chairman of the country’s largest mobile phone company , Bharti Airtel, said on Friday that the availability of more spectrum and affordable smartphones should translate into higher broadband usage.
Views from the telecom industry’s doyenne concur with those of telecom minister Manoj Sinha, who said on Friday that the auction was a success with about ` . 32,000 crore coming in as upfront payment, the highest in all auctions held till date.
“Spectrum was one of the biggest issues that has been resolved to a very large degree,“ Mittal said at the India Economic Summit. “Lots of spectrum was put up on the table. Most has been picked up and more will be picked up. I think the rollout is now accelerating.“
India’s biggest spectrum auction ended on Thursday with telecom companies placing bids worth ` . 65,789 crore in five days, leaving almost 60% of the airwaves, including the premium 700 MHz (4G) band, unsold.The auction would have fetched ` . 5.6 lakh crore if all the spectrum on offer was sold at the reserve price. The premium 700 MHz and 900 MHz spectrum found no takers, leading to a wide deficit.
“I totally disagree with the statement that this spectrum auction was a `failure’ (according to newspapers),“ telecom minister Sinha said on Friday, adding that the 2016 auction should be seen differently because this time companies were taking spectrum to improve their networks, while last year airwaves were bought for `survival.’ “I hope that after this auction, nobody would cite lack of spectrum as a cause for call drops. There would be no complaints in this regard. I think Digital India will get momentum after this spectrum auction,“ the minister added.
Sinha said that the department would be able to meet the budget revenue estimate of . 98,000 crore this financial year from the ` upfront payment and other sources.
Separately, the Bharti Enterprises chairman said Indian carriers now cover about 93% of the country’s population through mobile networks, which need to be converted into broadband networks. At present, broadband is available for only about 2224% of the people. — Neal Bhai Reports