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DoT plans to be ready for 5G spectrum auction by August next year






New Delhi: The department of telecommunications (DoT) has set for itself an ambitious target of completing the procedure for auctioning 5G spectrum by August next year.

Speaking on the sidelines of a workshop done with states and union territories, Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said on Monday: “We expect to complete due process by July-August 2019. I cannot say whether spectrum auction will happen by then, but we will be ready after the second half of 2020.” It did not mean the whole country would be in 5G but it would be available in certain pockets, she said.

The DoT secretary added while the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had given preliminary recommendations on the proposed auction, the working committee at the DoT was looking at the details. A separate task force on 5G has given a broader set of (spectrum) bands they can work on.


Telcos, however, say the target is ambitious, considering the fact that the industry is reeling from a debt of Rs 7.6 trillion on average gross revenues of only Rs 2.5 trillion and an Ebidta (earnings before interest, depreciation, taxation and amortisartion) margin of 20-22 per cent.

The telcos have to fork out Rs 245 billion next year as deferred payment for spectrum, which they bought earlier and which is equivalent to their entire EBITDA. That apart, they are investing $8-10 billion (Rs 576 billion to Rs 720 billion) in expanding their networks as well as partly paying for spectrum. Rajan Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India, said: “As there is no shortage of spectrum anymore and especially in 5G, you can put them under auction every year, but considering the financial situation, I don’t think anyone will be bidding for 5G, especially at the high price recommended by Trai.”

Mathews said there might be some demand from telcos for 4G spectrum in the 2300 band.

Vodafone-Idea, which has a huge debt overhang, has told the DoT not to hold auction till 2020, when the eco system for 5G gets evolved.

Telcos say they do not expect the price war, unleashed in the market with the coming of Jio, to ease in the next one to two years, and hence they hardy have any money for 5G. That is primarily because Jio is looking at grabbing a 40 per cent revenue share of the market, which is still a long road to go. “In a situation as we are, the focus for us will be to maintain our revenue share and invest in the network to ensure that customers stay with us, not 5G,” said a senior executive of a leading incumbent telco. Also business-to-business applications, which would be required to power 5G, which will offer speeds 100 times faster than 4G, have to be developed and made commercially viable for a business case to justify investment.

Jio has demonstrated applications on 5G (like facial recognition systems and robotic surgery) and also point out that their network is 5G-ready. Equipment makers like Huawei are gearing up for field trials in the first quarter of 2019 and the DoT has invited it, along with Ericsson and Nokia, to do so.

Trai had earlier recommended the auction of spectrum, which included 5G spectrum, at an estimated base price of over Rs 4.94 trillion. As much as 6000 Mhz of spectrum will be available in 5G, which includes both lower as well as higher bands.



RBI asks banks to grout ATMs to wall, floor for security by September-end

Press Trust of India



Mumbai: The Reserve Bank asked banks to ensure their ATMs are grouted to a wall, pillar, or floor by September-end, except those installed in high secured premises such as airports, to enhance security of the cash vending machines.

In 2016, the RBI had st up a Committee on Currency Movement (CCM) to review the entire gamut of security of treasure in transit.

Based on the recommendations of the panel, the central bank has now issued instructions aimed at mitigating risks in ATM operations and enhancing security.


As part of the security measures, all “ATMs shall be operated for cash replenishment only with digital One Time Combination (OTC) locks”.

Also, “All ATMs shall be grouted to a structure (wall, pillar, floor, etc.) by September 30, 2019, except for ATMs installed in highly secured premises such as airports, etc. which have adequate CCTV coverage and are guarded by state/central security personnel”.

Further, banks may also consider rolling out a comprehensive e-surveillance mechanism at the ATMs to ensure timely alerts and quick response, it said.

The new measures to be adopted by banks are in addition to the existing instructions, practices and guidance issued by the RBI and law enforcement agencies.

The RBI also warned the banks that non-adherence of timelines or non-observance of the instructions would attract regulatory action including levy of penalty.

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SBI refuses to disclose communication from RBI, govt on electoral bonds




New Delhi: The State Bank of India has refused to disclose any communication it received from the government or the Reserve Bank of India on electoral bonds, terming it “personal information” and held in “fiduciary capacity”.

Responding to an RTI filed by Pune-based activist Vihar Durve who had demanded copies of all letters, correspondence, directions, notifications or e-mails received from the RBI or any government department between 2017 and 2019, the SBI said it cannot be provided by it.

The bank cited two exemption clauses under the RTI Act to deny information — Section 8(1)(e) which pertains to information held in fiduciary capacity and Section 8(1)(J) which pertains to personal information of a person which has no link to any public activity.


“Information sought by the applicant cannot be disclosed as it is in fiduciary capacity, disclosure of which is exempted under Section 8(1)(e) and 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, 2005,” the Central Public Information Officer of the bank said in his reply.

The bank also refused to give any details of action taken by it on such communications from the RBI and the government.

The electoral bonds, for giving donations to political parties, are being sold through SBI only. The sale opens in SBI branches when the Finance Ministry issues a notification of their sale for a given period.

The scheme of electoral bonds notified by the Centre in 2018 has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

Only the political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and which secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last general election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the State, shall be eligible to receive the bonds.

The bonds may be purchased by a person who is a citizen of India “or incorporated or established in India,” the government had said in a statement last year.

The bonds remain valid for 15 days and can be encashed by an eligible political party only through an account with the authorised bank within that period only.

A voluntary group working in the field of electoral reforms, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), has demanded a stay on the sale while the CPI(M) has challenged it before the Supreme Court in separate petitions.

ADR recently filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018 which was notified by the Centre in January last year.

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Walmart’s Flipkart, Indian startup GOQii settle dispute over sharp discounting




New Delhi: Walmart unit Flipkart has settled a legal dispute with an Indian startup that alleged it suffered losses because its products were sharply discounted on the global retailer’s website.

GOQii, a seller of smartwatch-type health devices, sued Flipkart last month in a Mumbai court, alleging its devices were discounted by around 70 per cent to the retail price, much more than the two sides had agreed. The court had, as an interim measure, ordered device sales to be halted on Flipkart.

In a joint statement , the companies said the dispute had been resolved and GOQii health devices would again be available on Flipkart. They didn’t say how the settlement was reached.


Vishal Gondal, CEO of GOQii, told Reuters the company would withdraw the case against Flipkart. The e-commerce retailer’s “team worked on a resolution benefitting the brand and the customers”, Gondal said in the statement.

The legal spat was seen as a test case of the giant retailer’s operating strategy in the country.

Small traders and a right-wing group close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party have raised concerns about large e-commerce companies, saying they burn billions of dollars deeply discounting some products to lure customers onto their sites, in the expectation that they will also buy other goods.

GOQii said it signed an agreement last year with a Flipkart unit to sell two of its devices at a price not below 1,999 rupees (USD 28.63) and 1,499 rupees. It later found the devices were being sold for 999 rupees and 699 rupees, calling it “unauthorized” discounting.

In response, Flipkart said it reserved “the right to institute actions for defamation, both civil and criminal”, arguing it wasn’t responsible for any discounts which are determined by third-party firms which sell via its website.

The two companies struck a friendlier tone in their joint-statement on Friday as they brought the legal battle to an end.

“We have ensured constant engagement with GOQii to resolve any differences,” Flipkart said in the statement.

With a 19 per cent market share, GOQii was the second-biggest player in India’s so-called wearables market last year, data from industry tracker IDC showed. The market is dominated by China’s Xiaomi, with Samsung a small player.

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