Participation Of BSNL, MTNL In Spectrum Auction May Lead To Conflict Of Interest: Department Of Telecom 
Like other telecom companies in India, BSNL too has been facing stress since the entry of Reliance Jio in the telecom market. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Participation Of BSNL, MTNL In Spectrum Auction May Lead To Conflict Of Interest: Department Of Telecom 

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Participation of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. in spectrum auction may create efficacy and fairness related apprehensions in the telecom industry and lead to a conflict of interest, Union Minister Sanjay Dhotre informed the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

He was citing a letter of the department of telecom to the solicitor general of India on the matter of allocation of spectrum to BSNL. The government is planning to hold next round of spectrum auction in April-May this year. The auction will also include radiowaves for 5G services. A draft cabinet note has been prepared in this regard by the DoT.

"DoT is of the view that BSNL and MTNL being public sector undertakings, their participation in the auction conducted by the Government for allotment of spectrum may perhaps create unwarranted apprehensions in the telecom industry related to efficacy and fairness of the auction process.

Also read: BSNL, MTNL To Get Rs 37,640 From Government In FY21

"It may also lead to a situation of conflict of interest," the Minister of State for telecom and IT said in a written reply to the House. The government in October 2019 approved a relief package for BSNL and MTNL which included a capital infusion of around Rs 20,000 crore excluding GST payable for allocation of spectrum for 4G services.

Besides the 4G spectrum, BSNL has asked the government for the pan-India spectrum for 5G services. The DoT is now gearing up to auction spectrum worth Rs 5.22 lakh crore around April-May. The Digital Communications Commission has approved reserve price recommended by telecom regulator Trai but it will be placed before the Cabinet for the final approval.

"A Draft Cabinet Note has been prepared for the auction of the spectrum. The DCN is under consideration in the Department. The spectrum acquired through auction, as being held from time to time, is permitted to be used in a technologically agnostic manner. The successful bidders of the spectrum auction can deploy mobile services using any technology including 5G," Dhotre said.

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