In a statement issued on Wednesday, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw stated that the 5G spectrum auctions will “most likely” take place in February 2022 and that the government may even try to hold them in January.
During an interview with the Press Trust of India, Vaishnaw stated that the telecom reforms package approved by the Cabinet is sufficient to secure the survival of current companies and will promote strong competition in the industry. As a result of the additional reforms and structural improvements that are in the works, “more players should arrive,” he said.
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a massive relief package for the country’s stressed telecom sector, which includes a four-year reprieve from paying statutory dues, the ability to share scarce airwaves, a change in the definition of revenue on which levies are levied, and the approval of 100 percent foreign investment through the automatic route. The first day of October has been set aside for changes, which will include a moratorium period.
“There is enough competition in the current reform package to ensure the survival of the participants and the continued health of the sector as a result of the robustness of competition…I honestly believe that after we implement a few more of the modifications that are currently in the works, more players will join us” Vaishnaw shared his thoughts.
“We have no intention of stopping,” the minister added, underscoring the government’s unwavering determination to go on with changes in order to secure the continued viability of the telecom sector.
Following Wednesday’s briefing, the telecom minister stated that he had spoken with all of the major participants in the industry and that the firms were pleased with the broad range of initiatives that had been outlined.
📌Self-KYC (App based) permitted.
📌E-KYC rate revised to only One Rupee.
📌Shifting from Pre- paid to Post-paid and vice-versa will not require fresh KYC.#TelecomReforms#CabinetDecisions pic.twitter.com/3hwL5ocusG
— Ashwini Vaishnaw (@AshwiniVaishnaw) September 15, 2021
“All three major stakeholders believe that this was exactly what was required,” the minister stated.
When asked about the timing of the 5G spectrum auction, the minister said that it will take place during the last quarter of the current fiscal year.
“Most likely, it will be in February of 2022…I believe we can try again in January as well “Vaishnaw shared his thoughts.
Concerning the worries of the sector on excessive spectrum pricing, the minister stated: “Allow the TRAI consultations to come to a close and for them to release their final report. That is the appropriate moment for me to talk “.
In addition, he stated that the government would issue comprehensive circulars on each of the choices made as part of the telecom package; the fine print of AGR redefinition – which tries to exclude non-telecom products – is likely to be released in 2-3 weeks, according to the minister of communications.
“The thinking process that went into this reform package looked at the next 25 years…what corrections do we need to make, what reforms do we need to implement, and what structural changes do we need to do.
All of this should result in increased benefits for the most vulnerable members of society, as well as improved facilities for those who are marginalized or live in remote regions.
According to him, in order to promote inclusive growth and defend consumer interests, the telecom industry – which has served as the backbone of the digital economy, particularly during the epidemic – must be “strong and healthy,” and players must think they can make more investments.
On the four-year moratorium on companies paying statutory dues, in addition to the equity component, he explained that once the moratorium is over and the annual installment period begins, “we can convert that installment into equity, which will improve the cash flow situation,” depending on the circumstances and whether further intervention is required.
Even if a firm is unable to pay interest during the moratorium period, they still have the option of paying the interest amount out of their own pocket through equity.