Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan Thursday said that the target of $100 billion investment by 2022 as envisaged in the recently-released national policy may turn out to be lesser than the average telecom spend worldwide.
“The target of $100 billion of investment by 2022 may turn out to be little as there is a $4 trillion spend in telecom globally, with $500 billion alone earmarked for 5G in China,” Sundararajan said at the Broadband India Forum (BIF) summit.
5G or fifth-generation technology, according to her, is expected to double the global GDP.
The top official also said that the National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) envisages digital infrastructure to grow from 6.5% to 8%, while she stressed that the digital needs to be at the centre stage of growth strategy.
Sundararajan added that the Indian telecom market is vibrant as well as challenging.
"We have only seen the beginning of disruption and I am sure there will be many more disruptions to come but this is a market which is big enough, has enough growth potential for us to attract those kinds of investments and yet make investments profitable," she said.
Going forward, according to her, all economic activities would have a digital component in it.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) is also holding a workshop with state governments on 17 and 18 December to sensitise states on digital infrastructure and activities.
“Internet service providers have shown a keen interest in fibre-first initiative,” the official added.
“With 700 million unique phone users, 50% Indians are yet to acquire mobile phones and India has 48% Internet connections with only 33% broadband users,” Niti Aayog chief executive Amitabh Kant said.
The National Digital Communication Policy (NDCP) 2018, according to him, needs to be complemented by next-generation of technologies.
Kant said that fibre penetration in India is low, and to embark on 5G rollout, India would need fiberisation of all of its mobile towers, and he added that satellite-based bandwidth should also be used to connect rural India affordably.
“Based on our strengths, we should build our own strategy as our model is demand-driven, unlike the US and China markets,” Broadband India Forum chairman MF Farooqui said.
"Laying fibre is a big challenge. There should be a competition among states," Farooqui said, adding that a legislation would be needed so that a local municipal commissioner would not take industry at ransom for laying telecom infrastructure.