5G Spectrum Auction and it’s Scam allegations: Interesting Facts

Raja, who was previously investigated for the grant of 2G Spectrum licenses in 2007, spent 15 months in jail before acquittal in 2017.

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Yesterday, former Union Telecom minister DMK MP A Raja demanded a probe into 5G Spectrum auction that ended this week. Raja who was previously investigated for the grant of 2G Spectrum licenses in 2007, spent 15 months in jail before acquittal in 2017.

5G Spectrum auction- issues with it

Union government has itself estimated 5G spectrums would be sold up to Rs. 5 Lakh Crore. A reference of Rs. 4.3 Lakh Crore, reserve price was set for a total of 72 GHz of spectrum in 22 telecom circles before the bid came in.

But in the auction that ended on August 1, 2022, government realized only 35% of the reserve price. The most speculated 5G Spectrum has been auctioned for only Rs. 1.5Lakh crore.

Further, Telecom ministry said that 5 G will roll out in India by October in 13 cities to begin with. [Ahmadabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Gandhi Nagar, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Jamnagar, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Pune]

What is Spectrum? 

Spectrum refers to the invisible radio frequencies that wireless signals travel over. These signals enable us to make calls from our mobile devices. Portions of electromagnetic spectrum are grouped in bands depending on their wave lengths. Wireless communication ranges from about 20 KHz to 300 GHz.
Union Department of Telecom manages the spectrum by auctioning it in various telecom circles from time to time. As of date, our country is divided into 22 telecom circles.

2G Spectrum: The past alleged scam

In 2010, the then Comptroller and Auditor General of India Vinod Rai, alleged that 120 spectrum licenses of 2G were sold at very low prices. The report pegged the losses to the exchequer at Rs. 1.67 Lakh Crore.
Following the allegation, CBI charged and arrested former Union Telecom Minister A Raja and others.

Finally, in 2017, Raja and 34 others who were charged by CBI were acquitted by a special CBI court under Judge OP Saini. It held that CBI miserably failed to prove any charge against any of the accused.
Alleged 2G Scam was said to be one of the biggest scam to have happened in independent India till date. Even though, the accused were acquitted, the alleged scam created an atmosphere against UPA in the country. Consequently, the false allegation immensely helped in the rise of BJP and AAP.

5G Spectrum: the present alleged scam- government’s stand

While the opposition demands a probe in the present 5G, present Union Telecom minister Ashwani Vaishnav condemns it. He says, out of the total spectrum put on auction, the sold spectrum is valued at Rs. 150,173 crores and unsold spectrum is valued at Rs. 281,432 crores.  He says that what not sold remains within the government and the allegation of scam itself is baseless.

Interestingly, Mukesh Ambani’s Jio made biggest bid in the 5G auction. Nearly half of the total 5G spectrum Rs. 88078 crores was brought by him only through the auction.
If 5G spectrum auction proves to be a scam, it would be the biggest scam ever in Indian history as 5G values at least 3 times more than 2G.

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