Ravi Shankar Prasad says no to free spectrum to telecom operators

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Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that no spectrum will be given for free, even as telecom operators have demanded a cut in the proposed auction price for airwaves. The minister was talking to ET, when he highlighted how the public sector is busy combining infrastructure and leveraging the expertise of BSNL and the postal department so that the government plays is in a situation for a competitive battle with private players.

"Operators will not be given free spectrum even if that were to make me the most popular telecom minister," Prasad said. He declined to comment on reconsidering the proposed price.

"700MHz is the most attractive band to penetrate through thick walls," Prasad said while justifying the reasons for this high price. He also said that he doesn't expect that this decision would allow trading and sharing of spectrum that were approved after the 2015 airwave auctions to come in the way of the upcoming auction. He thinks that the size of the Indian market justifies further investment into the spectrum.

Talking of the other end of the deal, telecom operators have said that the price suggested by the telecom regulator for the auction of 700MHz spectrum is too steep.

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