New Delhi, Aug 2 (PTI) Telecom industry body COAI expects supportive policy framework and ecosystem to being in new technologies in India as it looks towards journey for the next 25 years in the country, a top official of the body said.
COAI's newly-appointed Director General S P Kochhar told PTI starting from scratch 25 years ago the Indian telecom sector is the second largest growing market globally after China with a huge subscriber base of over 120 crore serving them with the cheapest tariffs in the world.
'Ever since the first mobile call, made on July 31, 1995, telecom service providers have always come through in difficult situations, keeping the citizens connected, the nation's economy buzzing, governments functioning and the networks running.
'The sector has seen phenomenal growth and has been the economic backbone of the nation by contributing 6.5 per cent to the GDP in 2019,' Kochhar said.
He said 5G is going to be a game changer when India begins its journey for the next 25 years in the telecom sector and will need supportive policies for its growth.
'5G is the next generation of mobile networks, as we expect a supportive policy framework and ecosystem to bring in the new technology. The contribution of telecom sector in GDP will remain a critical factor (as the industry aims to contribute from current 6.5 to 8 per cent) as usage increases and more subscribers are added,' Kochhar said.
He said that edge computing, quantum computing, blockchain, robotics and whole lot of technologies will surely be playing a much critical role in the next 5 to 10 years which will need favourable environment in the country.
He said that the government should made available complete identified spectrum in 3300-3600 MHz bands for 5G technology.
'Additional spectrum bands identified by 5G High Level Forum including 26, 28 and 40 GHz should also be identified and made available for 5G,' Kochhar said.
Once the poster boy of India economy, all but one player in the sector have become debt-ridden and are struggling to crawl back to profit.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has requested for several policy interventions to address financial distress faced by the telecom sector.
'Government should rationalise the high burden of the regulatory levies on the telecom service providers (TSP) with immediate effect including GST,' Kochhar said. At present, the government levies 18 per cent goods and services tax on telecom services.
Kochhar reiterated demand for the introduction of floor tariffs for data services by the regulator. Industry players have proposed raising of minimum rate of data per gigabyte by 5 to 10 times.
Talking about infrastructure issues, Kochhar said, 'Since all the cell towers in the country at present are not connected through fibre due to its paucity, there is an issue. Moreover, in last four years we have not had any increase in backhaul spectrum, hence, we are dealing with constrained factors and have to manage the quality of services based on existing capacity, for everybody's good,' Kochhar said.
The COAI has demanded that the backhaul spectrum in the E and V bands (80GHz and 60GHz) should be made available at modest price at the earliest. PTI PRS MR