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TRAI recommendations on satellite spectrum allocation awaited before any decision taken

Communications and IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Friday said the government will wait for the recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on the satellite spectrum allocation as it does not want to weaken the process through a shortcut.

“It will be wrong to ask the view of the government — whether it should be via auctions or administrative spectrum allocation. The TRAI recommendations are yet to come,” Vaishnaw said at a media interaction on the sidelines of the India Mobile Congress.

“Let the TRAI consultation be done in a proper manner. We have to build the institution and build the process. If we go for shortcuts then we will be weakening the process,” Vaishnaw added.

The comments from Vaishnaw assume significance as both Reliance Jio and Bharti Enterprises-owned OneWeb have inched closer to commercially launch satellite broadband services and are waiting for spectrum allocation.

On Friday, Jio launched India’s first satellite-based giga fiber service JioSpaceFiber to provide high speed broadband services to previously inaccessible geographies in the country. Bharti Enterprises-owned OneWeb also said it will also be able to launch satellite broadband service through its earth station gateway in Gujarat next month onwards.

Both the companies are currently running their service on trial spectrum and will not be able to offer it commercially until the spectrum is allotted to them, government officials said.

Lately, there has been a spar between telcos like Jio, Vodafone Idea and satcom players on allocation methodology for spectrum allocation. While Jio and Vodafone Idea want the government to conduct auctions, satcom players want the government to have administrative allocation of spectrum.

“We will have a discussion with the industry and will take the right decision at the right time,” Vaishnaw added.

Besides the satellite spectrum, Vaishnaw also talked about telecom equipment exports. He said 72 countries are using Made in India telecom equipment at present.

“There are so many countries who have started design and manufacture in India and today we have become exporters of equipment,” Vaishnaw added.

Apart from the telecom sector, Vaishnaw also touched upon the government’s upcoming rules under the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act. He said the rule making is in the process and the government will follow a 45-day public consultation which is expected to be done by year end. Further, the government will get approval from Parliament to implement the same.

Lately, the government has also been vocal about the safety of users on the Internet. Under the IT Rules, the government mandates the social media intermediaries to take down any content promoting hate speech, child abuse, affecting law and order, etc.

“We have to make sure that all the platforms are responsible and make sure that whatever is not supposed to be there on the Internet, shouldn’t be there,” Vaishnaw said, adding that time has come when the societies across the world are demanding that that content moderation process of social media intermediaries strengthens further. Financial Express

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