The Digital Communications Commission (DCC), the apex decision-making body of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), on Thursday approved a string of telecom infrastructure projects, including roll-out of over 3,500 mobile towers for 4G services in the Northeast, involving a total expenditure of Rs 8,588 crore.In an attempt to provide in-building internet access, the DoT will urge the housing and urban affairs ministry to ensure that the existing and under-construction residential complexes provide access to all telecom operators in a fair and transparent manner. The DCC, formerly known as the Telecom Commission, comprises officials from the departments of telecommunications, electronics and information technology, revenue, and think tank NITI Aayog. The panel approved a special scheme to cover close to 12,000 uncovered villages in aspirational districts, a top official said on Thursday. It also okayed 1,917 mobile towers for 2,968 uncovered villages of Arunachal Pradesh and two districts of Assam. “4G connectivity has been approved for uncovered villages in the Northeast. This includes 2,215 villages in Arunachal Pradesh and 763 villages in two districts of Assam, and highway. The total cost estimate is Rs 2,536 crore,” telecom secretary Anshu Prakash told reporters.
The proposal will need approval of the Cabinet, he said.Prakash said the projects were expected to be completed in 18 months from the date these were awarded to telecom operators. The DCC also approved 1,593 mobile towers for 4G connectivity in 2,691 uncovered villages of Meghalaya at an outlay of Rs 2,132 crore, Prakash said. The panel also okayed Rs 2,065 crore for Bharat Net project in Telangana and Rs 1,815 crore in Tamil Nadu. DoT examining Trai’s 5G recommendations The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is preparing for 5G airwaves auctions, which are likely to be held around January next year. The DoT is examining the recommendations by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), and will send its report to the Union Cabinet for approval. “We are examining (Trai recommendation on reserve price for 5G spectrum) and we have already said that by the year end or January next year, we should have the auctions. Reserve prices would require the Cabinet approval,” Prakash said. Trai’s recommendations are still under examination and an internal committee of the ministry is yet to submit its report to the DCC. Trai had sent its recommendations in August last year, after which the DoT urged it to take a relook in some matters, especially around spectrum pricing. However, Trai stood by its suggestions in July and sent back the recommendations to DoT. Prakash said the process of deciding the auctioneer was underway and that request for proposal (RFP) was done. Inter-ministerial meetings are happening and very soon the department would be able to decide the auctioneer to conduct the auction.