Hon’ble Minister of Communications, IT & Law and Justice Shri Ravishankar Prasad ji, Hon’ble Secretary, department of Telecommunications Shri Anshu Prakash ji, Hon’ble TRAI chairman Shri RS Sharma ji, Hon’ble chairman of TDSAT Shri Shiva Kirti Singh ji , my learned friends on the dais, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my privilege to share my thoughts on this occasion.
As all of us know that with the policy initiatives taken by the Government led by our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, India is poised to become a 5 trillion Dollar Economy by 2024. The strong fundamentals of Indian economy and recently announced policy measures will definitely ensure tremendous growth opportunities in India. I will not be wrong in saying that India has potential to become a 10 trillion Dollar Economy by the year 2030.
Telecommunication Sector has an important role to play in this growth. Telecommunication is crucial for growth and modernity. It plays a vital role for development of society. It is a prime support service needed for growth of all sections of economy.
India has leapfrogged in the telecommunications field in the last 20 years. Today India’s telecom sector is one of the fastest growing sector of economy.
Last 3 years in particular have been a feather in the cap of Telecommunication sector where voice traffic has migrated to Data traffic. India has emerged as world leader in Data communication. Today India has the highest mobile data usage with monthly usage of more than 9 GB per subscriber including those in the rural areas. Just before 3 years, India’s rank in the world was 155th in terms of mobile data consumption. Today within a short span of 3 years, it ranks number one in mobile data consumption in the world. This by no mean is a small achievement.
This has been possible because of large scale deployment of 4G networks and availability of affordable 4G mobile handsets. Today world class 4G infrastructure is in place in our country and people of India can now productively participate in 4th Industrial Revolution.
In the last 3 years the Data usage price has come down tremendously to the extent of Rs.10 per GB from a level of Rs.500 per GB which has made data usage affordable even to the economically weaker section of the society. Today we can proudly say that digital divide has almost ended in India.
India today can take pride in the fact that it is the fastest growing wireless broadband communication society in the world. Reliance Jio has played stellar role in this market transformation by investing more than 50 billion dollar towards creating state of the art 4G infrastructure across India with largest optical fibre footprint. The populace, still considered unworthy of data services by others, has been provided with the hi speed wireless broadband services and Jio now covers over 96% of the Indian population and moving towards 99% population coverage by the end of this fiscal year including in far flung ranges of Himalayas and difficult areas of North East.
This kind of wide 4G coverage by Jio followed by other service providers now coupled with Bharatnet optical fibre network being rolled out by the Government of India has brought state of art Broadband Telecom Network to rural households thereby igniting the fire of e-learning and e-commerce which will bring aspirational goals of Digital India alive.
One of the Goals of National Digital Communication Policy of 2018 is to enable fixed line Broadband access to 50% households by 2022. Jio is strongly pushing towards revolutionalising the fixed line broadband network with never seen before coverage and never seen before suit of services by rolling out its ultra modern fibre to home network.
While we work towards achieving the Goals set out in National Digital Communication Policy 2018, we must not forget the impediments for meeting these goals which most importantly includes predictable spectrum availability. Timely availability of spectrum is one of the key requirement of mobile communication industry. To accelerate the
growth further in wireless broadband, to build investor’s confidence, the Government would need to have a clear road map for timely availability of spectrum. The long delays between the spectrum auctions should end. Moreover, Spectrum should be made continuously available to the Industry between the two auctions at the price determined during the last auction.
Further to establish India’s leadership in emerging 5G technology we also need to harmonize with international spectrum allocations. The prices of 5G spectrum need to be critically relooked at. Higher floor prices will lead to 5G networks being unviable and therefore getting delayed. An equilibrium therefore, need to be established between Government revenue and overall growth.
Technologies such as 5G are open platform at different layers permitting devices with Artificial Intelligence which would play key role in supporting real time decision making. Applications and Services over these platforms can be developed by startups and small entrepreneurs which will throw up large scale employment opportunities. Hence it is a
must that the Government take a holistic look at promoting 5G technology with policy measures including optimal pricing of 5G spectrum.
The Government also need to take holistic look at the telecommunication sector as a whole. Not only the service providers but also the Application Developers, the Application Service Providers, the Network Equipment Manufactures and the Handset Manufactures all need to be promoted through appropriate policy measures. The
Government’s policy initiatives of “Make in India” and “Preferential Market Access” has no doubt created right environment for manufacturing in India. The true growth of telecommunication sector will only happen when India designs and manufactures majority of telecommunication equipments required in the country and also become an export base for the same.
Friends, all the stakeholders, i.e. Government, Service Providers, Developers and Manufacturers – Indian and International, need to continue to work together in harmony to make India a leader in innovation, technology adoption and creation of largest services market in the world.
This conference has provided a very good platform to exchange views on several related issues, challenges and opportunities.
At the end of the conference not only Indian industry but the whole world will be benefitted with a resolution to implement it. Jothi.S