The Telecom Bill 2023 has ignored objections from domestic telecom operators including Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. by allowing to provide spectrum for satellite communications without auction.
The Telecommunications Bill, 2023, proposes the allocation of spectrum to satellite communications companies through the administrative method, according to the bill.
That meets the demand of global satellite services providers, including Elon Musk’s Starlink, and rejects the argument made by domestic telecom players Jio and Vodafone Idea Ltd. for allocation of spectrum for commercial use through auction only.
After meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York in June, Musk had said he was keen to launch Starlink in India that “can be incredibly helpful” in bringing the internet to remote villages that lack on-ground infrastructure.
Based on comments provided by various companies to the sector regulator TRAI’s consultations on the issue, brokerage CLSA had said that several players—including Starlink, Amazon’s Kuiper, Tata Group, Bharti Airtel Ltd.-backed OneWeb, and Larsen and Toubro Ltd.—were against the auction.
What The bill Says
According to the bill, the spectrum will be assigned by auction, except for specified uses, where it will be allocated on an administrative basis, the bill said.
The exclusions include use of spectrum for purposes such as:
- National security and defence.
- Disaster management.
- Weather forecasting.
- Satellite services such as DTH and satellite telephony
- BSNL, MTNL, and public broadcasting services.
The central government may repurpose or reassign any frequency range, and may permit sharing, trading, leasing, and surrender of spectrum, according to the bill.
The bill was introduced in the lower house by Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw amid din over the Opposition demanding a statement by Home Minister Amit Shah on the Parliament security breach issue.
The Telecom Bill also empowers India’s government to suspend or prohibit use of telecom equipment from specific countries on the grounds of national security. NDTV Profit