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Spectrum auction in Mar, DoT to seek cabinet nod in Dec

Any telecom player interested in buying spectrum for 5G service in 3,300-3,400 Mhz and 3,425-3,600 Mhz band will need to shell out at least Rs 9,840 crore as per TRAI’s proposal.

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New Delhi, Nov 28 : Department of Telecom is targeting spectrum auction in mid March, 2020, after its high powered committee on spectrum pricing decided in favour of TRAI’s recommended base price. The decision will be placed before the Cabinet for approval in December, official sources said.

“We are targeting March for spectrum auction for 5G and others. We will push for cabinet approval next month after taking Digital Communications Commission nod on prices. Our internal committee has cleared the TRAI base prices for all the bands, all processes are concurrently going on. The auctioneer will also be appointed shortly,” official sources said.

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had also in a written reply said on Wednesday that there is no reduction on prices for the spectrum auction envisaged.

The minister said: “The value of unsold spectrum as on date as p er valuation by TRAI in its recommendations on Auction of Spectrum in 700 MH z, 800MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2,500 MHz, 3,300-3,400 MHz, 3,400-3,600MHz Bands dated August 1, 2018 is Rs 4.9 lakh crore,” Prasad said.

Any telecom player interested in buying spectrum for 5G service in 3,300-3,400 Mhz and 3,425-3,600 Mhz band will need to shell out at least Rs 9,840 crore as per TRAI’s proposal.

The minister also said the 275 megahertz of available radiowaves frequency between 3,300-3,400 Mhz and 3,425 to 3,600 Mhz band for 5G auction which is enough to launch 5G services in the country.

Industry bodies and telecom operators have been demanding a reduction in the proposed base price for 5G spectrum auction, claiming that the rate was t oo high.The DoT has set a target to roll out 5G in 2020. Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson in its global study published early this week said that 5G connections are likely to be available in India from 2022.

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Sensex up 129 pts, Yes Bank tanks 7%

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Mumbai, Dec 11 Sensex advanced 129 points during the early trade on Wednesday while the Nifty traded slightly below the 11,900 mark.

Yes Bank fell over 7 per cent after it postponed the decision to approve or decline the binding offer of $1.2 Billion — 60 per cent of the total capital the bank aims to raise — submitted by mysterious investor Erwin Singh Braich on Tuesday.

Yes Bank, however, said it is willing to “favourably consider the offer of $500 Million of CitaxHoldings and Citax Investment Group and the final decision regarding allotment to follow in the next board meeting..”

At 9.59 a.m., the Sensex was up 129.98 points or +0.32 per cent at 40,369.86. The Nifty jumped 35.05 points at 11,891.85.

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DoT cracks whip, tells telcos to pay pending AGR dues fast

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New Delhi, Dec 10 : The Department of Telecom (DoT) has asked telecom licencees to speed up the process of self-assessment of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) based dues and the payment of over Rs 1.47 lakh crore and submit comprehensive representation on previous issued demands latest by December 13, 2019.

The letter issued by the DoT has been viewed by IANS. The deadline for payment of AGR dues is January 23, 2020.

Three telcos — Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Tele — have filed review petition of the Supreme Court order in October, which paved the way for the DoT to seek AGR dues, penalty and interest from the telcos.

“The comprehensive representation shall be submitted within a week latest by December 13, 2019,” DoT said in the letter to the telecom licensees, adding that majority of the licence fee assessments have been settled after the SC judgement and for any remaining issues, a comprehensive representation needs to be submitted to the department.

In light of the Supreme Court order on AGR computation, all the annual assessment for licence fees and spectrum usage charges for relevant years are being re-examined.

“And now since all the earlier demands are being re-examined with respect to the SC judgement, you are requested to kindly submit a comprehensive year-wise, circle-wise representation except for issues which have been decided by the SC,” the letter said.

“In this regard, it is pointed out that over a course of time, multiple representations related to LF (licence fee) assessments were received from various licencees for consideration by the department,” the DoT letter added.

Further, self-assessment of dues and payments along with the submission of relevant documents as per a licence finance wing letter of November 13 needs to be expedited, the letter said.

Any issues should be pointed out in the comprehensive representation to be submitted but in no case the self assessment of the dues and payments along with the submission of relevant documents are to be delayed, it pointed out.

The Supreme Court decided in favour of the government’s contention that all revenues, including that from non-core sources, would be counted in calculating AGR. Licence holders have to pay about 8 per cent of AGR to the DoT as fees. Telcos also pay about 3-4 per cent of AGR as spectrum usage charges.

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RBI seen holding rates in the remainder of FY20

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New Delhi, Dec 10 : Notwithstanding growth pangs, the Reserve Bank is expected to maintain the accommodative monetary easing pause till the end of FY20 to contain retail inflation levels, say industry observers.

Economists and industry experts pointed out that an imminent rise in retail food inflation over the next two months will override growth concerns and deter RBI to go in for a rate cut during the final monetary policy review for FY20 in Februray.

“In our view, the CPI inflation will rise sharply in the next two prints. So, we expect a pause in the February 2020 policy review,” said ICRA Principal Economist Aditi Nayar.

“Further monetary easing may not be sufficient to trigger a rapid revival in economic growth in the current situation.”

Recently, RBI’s monetary policy committee in its fifth review of the current fiscal maintained the repo, or short-term lending rate for commercial banks at 5.15 per cent.

The apex bank had reduced key lending rates during the last five policy reviews to reverse the current consumption slowdown that has plagued the country’s economy.

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das defended the decision by recalling the “primary objective” of the central bank was inflation targeting and price control.

He pointed out that headline inflation is currently high, largely due to rise in food inflation. Das added that food inflation will remain “very high” during January-March, which prompted the RBI to hit the pause button on rate cuts.

Last month, macro-economic data showed that a substantial rise in food prices had lifted India’s October retail inflation to 4.62 per cent from 3.99 per cent in September.

The National Statistics Office is slated to release the macro-economic data point of Consumer Price Index for November on December 12, followed a day later by Wholesale Price Index.

Besides, RBI reduced the country’s FY20 GDP growth forecast from 6.1 per cent in the October policy to 5 per cent.

“Interestingly, the RBI seemed content with the pace of transmission and no longer sees the transmission as staggered and incomplete,” Edelweiss Securities’ Economist Madhavi Arora.

“We think that this easing pause is temporary. Even so, our estimates suggest inflation will likely remain above 5 per cent in 4QFY20 and could constrain a rate cut in February.”

Furthermore, RBI may await the budgetary announcements and the fiscal measures thereof before any decision to revise the rates.

According to Acuite Ratings & Research Lead Economist Karan Mehrishi: “At this point, an accommodative policy in pause mode appears likely till Q1 FY21.

“While there may be a potential risk of a rate hike if the inflation print remains persistently elevated along with a comfortable liquidity scenario, it is likely that the MPC will abstain from such action unless there is a modest revival in growth rate.”

(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at [email protected])

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