Telecom spectrum auction in 2-3 months: Prasad

Telecom and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad
Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Friday that the next round of telecom spectrum auction, which is expected to mop up a whopping Rs 560,000 crore or $83 billion, will take place in another two-three months in India.

“We have cleared spectrum trading and sharing. Therefore, issues regarding spectrum have been addressed. In the coming two-three months, 2,000 MHz of spectrum will be auctioned,” Prasad said in his address at the 9th Telecom India Summit in Delhi organized by Assocham.

Earlier, industry stakeholders were expecting the auction – entailing bidding for bands 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz, 2,300 MHz and 2,500 MHz – to take place in June.

The telecom minister reiterated that telecom service providers (TSP) need to improve the quality of its services and the customers should be happy.

“The telecom operators should provide good service and quality service to the people. I only want people to be satisfied,” he said.

On Bharti Airtel, a day after the apex court waived call drop penalties from the service providers on May 11, announcing a 25 percent more stringent voluntary call drop benchmark, Prasad said: “Customers should be happy… I don’t understand self regulation!”

“It is in your interest to give quality services to the customers. Quest for quality services will always rise,” he told the telecom firms.

Meanwhile, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Friday launched free Wi-Fi service at three more railway stations across India via videoconferencing here.

These stations are at Patna in Bihar, Visakhapatnam in Odisha and Ranchi in Jharkhand.

So far, Mumbai Central, Bhubaneshwar, Kachiguda, Vijayawada, Raipur, Bhopal and Jaipur have got Wi-Fi facility.

The minister said the government planned to introduce the service at all major railway stations in the country in three years.

“By this year-end, free Wi-Fi facility will be in place at 100 major railway stations. We will achieve our target of 400 stations in three years. Once in place, it will be the largest public Wi-Fi system in the world,” Prabhu told reporters here.

The service was commissioned by RailTel, a mini-Ratna public sector undertaking, in association with Google for providing high-speed internet to rail commuters at these places.

The services will be provided under ‘Railwire’, the retail broadband distribution model of Railtel.

Mumbai Central was the first railway station in the country with free Wi-Fi facility.

Last year, Google India and Indian Railways joined hands to introduce high-speed Wi-Fi network at 400 stations in the country.