2G SPECTRUM (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Economy)

News-CRUX-10     26th April 2024        

Context: Recently, over a decade after the Supreme Court cancelled 122 telecom licenses in the landmark 2G spectrum scam judgment, the Union government has filed an application to allocate spectrum administratively, bypassing auctions.

2G Spectrum

  • About: It is a combination of three cases, one filed by Enforcement Directorate and two cases registered by the CBI.
  • Timeline of Events: The scam is said to have originated in 2008 with the sale of 122 2G licenses on a first-come-first-serve basis to specific telecom operators.
  • Allegations by CBI: In April 2011, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a charge sheet alleging a loss of ₹30,984 crore to the exchequer due to discrepancies in the allocation process.
  • Sovereignty of Spectrum: It  is a sovereign asset overseen by governments or designated national regulatory authorities, which manage and issue licenses for its use in each country.
  • Vital Infrastructure: Spectrum serves as invisible infrastructure, enabling wireless connectivity crucial for modern economies and societies.
  • Importance of Spectrum Allocation: Spectrum relates to the radio frequencies allocated to various sectors, including the mobile industry, for communication over airwaves.

o Spectrum facilitates a wide range of services and applications essential for connectivity, including mobile broadband for internet access.

What is the significance of the new telecom law?

  • About:: The new telecom law grants the government increased authority to assign spectrum for telecommunication through administrative processes.
  • Exemptions: Entities engaged in national security, defence, law enforcement, and certain global mobile communication ventures like Space X and OneWeb, are exempt from spectrum auctions.
  • Secondary Assignees: The law allows for the assignment of parts of spectrum already allocated to primary entities to secondary assignees.
  • Spectrum Utilization Control: Authorities are empowered to terminate spectrum assignments if they remain underutilized without valid reasons.

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