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Policy & Regulation
New telecom policy''s $100 billion investment estimate conservative: COAI
TT Correspondent |  |  07 May 2018

The government's plan to attract USD 100 billion (about Rs 6.5 lakh crore) investment in the telecom sector by 2022 is conservative, industry body COAI has said.

Just two telecom operators, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio, have committed to invest Rs 74,000 crore this year alone, which is more than 10 per cent of the total government estimate, COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews said.

"Telecom operators are investing USD 10 billion. Half of investment is expected to come from just these two players," he told in an interview.

The government draft of the new telecom policy (NTP) -- 'National Digital Communications Policy 2018' -- aims to create 40 lakh new jobs by 2022, attract USD 100 billion investment in the sector and ensure broadband coverage at 50 mbps for every citizen.

It also proposes to address the woes of debt-ridden telecom sector by reviewing licence fees, spectrum usage charges, universal service obligation fund levy -- all of which add to cost of telecom services.

Appreciating the reforms proposed in the policy, Mathews said that rationalisation of spectrum price and related charges will further fuel the investments in the sector.

"If the policy gets implemented as proposed in the draft, the sector will be able to attract huge amount of foreign direct investments," Mathews said.

The policy draft proposes adopting "Optimal Pricing of Spectrum" to ensure sustainable and affordable access to digital communications.

It also proposes use of mid-band spectrum, particularly the 3 GHz to 24 GHz range, for next-generation networks.

Besides, it has outlined a roadmap for transmitting signals between mobile towers in E-band (71-76/81-86 GHz) and V-band (57-64 MHz) spectrum, in line with international best practices.

Mathews said the government should start allocating spectrum in E and V bands without auction to expedite the roll out of telecom infrastructure to meet the proposed objectives such as broadband for all and increasing the share of the telecom sector in GDP to 8 per cent from 6 per cent at present.

"The policy proposes to allocate E and V band spectrum in line with global best practices. Nowhere in the world these spectrum are allocated on the basis of auction. Telecom operators already pay for spectrum in auctions which comes bundled with backhaul spectrum.

"The E and V bands are for backhaul services so there should be no extra charge for them," he said.

(Reported PTI)

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