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Auction for 5G spectrum likely in April-May 2022: Vaishnaw

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NEW DELHI: The auction for the 5G spectrum is likely to take place around April-May next year, communications minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Thursday.
While relief measures announced in September this year for telecom operators marked the first set of reforms, the government will bring out a series of further reforms and “telecom regulatory structure should change in coming 2-3 years”, Vaishnaw said.
Speaking at the ‘Times Now Summit 2021’, the minister said India’s telecom sector regulation has to be benchmarked with the global best, and added that “so, we will come with a series of reforms in this, such that the global benchmark of regulations is achieved in India”.
On the timeline for 5G auctions, Vaishnaw noted that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), which looks at the structure of auctions, is undergoing consultations on the matter.
“I think they will submit their report by February-mid is what we are thinking, maybe February-end, maximum to maximum March. Immediately after that, we will have the auctions,” he said.
The comment assumes significance as the department of telecommunications (DoT) was earlier hopeful of holding 5G auctions by the end of the current fiscal.
Giving a specific timeline for the upcoming auction will be difficult at this stage since much depends on the time Trai will take to finalise its views, the minister added.
“But, today, our estimate is by April-May. I was earlier estimating March. But, I think it will take…because consultations are complex, diverse opinions are coming…,” he said.
The government is keen to ensure that auctions are technology-neutral, and wants to give a spectrum that is consistent for many years to come.
“So, 4G can be used in that, 5G can be used. So, that’s the thinking based on not just short term but more like thinking at least 5-10 years ahead,” he said.
It may be recalled that the DoT had approached Trai seeking its recommendations on pricing, quantum and other modalities pertaining to radiowaves in multiple bands, as it prepares the groundwork for holding 5G spectrum auction in the coming months.
DoT’s reference seeks views of Trai on base price, quantum and all other modalities for spectrum across multiple bands.
These include bands such as 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz as also 3,300-3,600 MHz bands (that were not put up for auctions in the last round), and millimetre-wave band (that is 24.25-28.5 GHz).
The last round of spectrum auction, held in March this year, had raked-in winning bids of over Rs 77,800 crore for 855.6 MHz of spectrum.
Vaishnaw said that with major reforms for telcos outlined in September, the government expects the industry to focus on stepping up investments by 2-4 times, reaching out to the unconnected and improving service quality.
“See call drops…classic case, call drops because the investment in the sector is very less, that investment has to step up to 2-4 X. That’s what we need,” he said.
The telecom regulatory structure should change in the coming 2-3 years, and the “first fundamental change” has already happened, he said pointing to the sectoral reforms unveiled recently.
“In fact, the industry is saying that whatever has been done in the September reforms, that itself they are taking some time to absorb and adjust according to that, because business plans will have to change the entire fundamental structure of the industry will have to change,” he said.
The telecom sector, as such, got a shot in the arm with the government recently approving a blockbuster relief package that includes a four-year break for companies from paying statutory dues, permission to share scarce airwaves, change in the definition of revenue on which levies are paid and 100 per cent foreign investment through the automatic route.
The measures, aimed at providing relief to telecom service providers that have to pay thousands of crores in unprovisioned past statutory dues, also include the scrapping of spectrum usage charge (SUC) for airwaves acquired in future spectrum auctions.
Vaishnaw exuded confidence that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of having a world-class technology stack in the telecom sector will be realized by the middle of 2023.
“All along we have imported technology. Today, our entire network works on somebody else’s.
“So, the fundamental change which will happen is 4G, 5G and 6G this entire technology stack, the hardware as well as software, both will be developed in India, proven in India, then used all over the world,” he informed.
That vision has been achieved for 4G already, and 70-75 per cent of work has been done for the 5G stack.
“The 5G stack is like 70-75 per cent ready. By February, we should have the entire 5G software stack ready.
“Production-linked incentives for telecom manufacturing… 35 manufacturers have already availed it and are in the process of setting up the factories. 6G to begin, that entire process…thinking process, conceptualisation, that task has already been given,” he added.





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Services sector activity in November registers second-fastest pace of growth since July 2011: Survey

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NEW DELHI: Services sector activity expanded at the second-fastest pace in more than a decade during November, driven by sustained rise in new work and improvement in market conditions, a monthly survey said on Friday.
The seasonally adjusted India Services Business Activity Index was at 58.1 in November, fractionally down from 58.4 in October. The November figure points to the second-fastest rise in output since July 2011.
For the fourth straight month, the services sector witnessed an expansion in output. In Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) parlance, a print above 50 means expansion while a score below 50 denotes contraction.
“The recovery of the Indian service sector was extended to November, with a robust improvement in sales enabling the second-fastest rise in business activity in nearly ten-and-a-half years,” Pollyanna De Lima, economics associate director at IHS Markit, said.
Although companies forecast higher business activity volumes over the course of the coming year, the expansion is expected to be restricted by price pressures.
Amid reports of higher fuel, labour, material, retail and transportation costs, average input prices among Indian services companies rose further in November.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions reportedly caused a further drop in international demand for Indian services. The latest fall in external sales was the twenty-first in successive months although among the slowest over this period, the survey said.
As per the survey, private sector activity in India continued to expand, taking the current sequence of growth to four months.
The composite PMI output index — which measures combined services and manufacturing output — rose from 58.7 in October to 59.2 in November, signalling the strongest upturn since January 2012.
“Looking at the manufacturing and service sectors combined, the results are even more encouraging and bode well for economic performance in the third quarter of fiscal year 2021-22 so far. With production growth quickening considerably in November, private sector output expanded at the fastest pace since January 2012,” Lima said.
India’s GDP growth stood at 8.4 per cent in the second quarter of 2021-22 and surpassed the pre-Covid level, official data showed on Tuesday.





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ramachandran: Sandeep Ghosh to head Visa India; Ramachandran relocates to Singapore

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MUMBAI: International digital payments major Visa has announced new leadership for India and South Asia, with the incumbent TR Ramachandran being relocated to Singapore from next year to lead its newly created new payment flows business.
Ramachandran will be succeeded by Sandeep Ghosh, most recently a partner and leader of the financial services consulting practice at EY India, said Chris Clark, Visa Inc regional president.
Ramachandran joined Visa in 2015 to lead its business across India and South Asia.
Deutsche Bank India expands wealth management team
Deutsche Bank India has announced expansion of its wealth management team with a team of new hires, taking the total strength to over 15 in the past one year alone.
The additional hires are being made across the areas of relationship management and investment advisory, Amrit Singh, head of wealth management for South Asia said.
Among the new hires include Rajasekar Ayyalu who has joined as a director in Chennai where he will be responsible for expanding and deepening the bank’s presence. He joins from Julius Baer where he was an executive director prior to which he worked at Merrill Lynch and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
In addition to Rajasekar, four vice-presidents — Jai Bhatia, Sanyam Sharma , Anjali Vashisth and Manish Lalwani–have joined the Delhi and Mumbai offices as relationship managers, Atinkumar Saha, head of wealth management at Deutsche Bank India said.





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Net direct tax revenue rises 68% to Rs 6.92 lakh crore till November 23

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NEW DELHI: The net direct tax collection grew nearly 68 per cent during April 1 to November 23 to more than Rs 6.92 lakh crore, Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary said on Monday.
“The Net Direct Tax Collection figures for the FY- 2021-22 as on 23.11.2021 are at Rs 6,92,833.6 crores showing a growth of 67.93 per cent and 27.29 per cent over the net collection figures for the corresponding period FY2020-21 and FY 2019-20,” he said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.
The net collection between April 1 – November 23 in 2020-21 and 2019-20 fiscals was over Rs 4.12 lakh crore and over Rs 5.44 lakh crore respectively.
The gross direct tax collection (before adjusting refunds) as of November 23 stood at over Rs 8.15 lakh crore, a 48.11 growth over the collections in the corresponding period in last fiscal.
Chaudhary further said that the gross GST collection in the current fiscal (April 2021-March’22) post Covid-19 outbreak is showing an increasing trend.
The gross GST collection for full 2020-21 ended March 2021 was over Rs 11.36 lakh crore, while the same in the current fiscal till October stood at Rs 8.10 lakh crore.
In reply to a separate question on whether incidents of tax evasion are increasing in Delhi and other parts of the country, Chaudhary said there is no evidence to suggest that incidents of income tax evasion are increasing in Delhi and other parts of the country.
“In terms of cases detected under Goods & Service Tax (GST) and Customs, there is no increasing trend in such evasion noticed in Delhi, although, there is overall increase in detection of GST and Customs evasion cases in the country,” he added.





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